Letter: Tree Farm should pay for road improvements
The proponents of the Tree Farm project propose to do what so many developers in the valley have done before: expropriate public property for their own financial benefit. In this case, though, Ace Lane and his backers are doing it on a grand scale.
The Tree Farm project, by adding 400 residential units, would create a huge congestion problem at the El Jebel intersection with Colorado Highway 82. Anyone trying to commute to Aspen from towns west of El Jebel would be affected. Commute times to Aspen could increase by 10, 20 or 30 minutes as traffic from Willits, El Jebel and Missouri Heights bleed onto Highway 82. Even those traveling on buses would be affected.
The obvious solution is to make Highway 82 a limited-access highway from Blue Lake to Basalt. This, however, would require the construction of two or three major intersections with underpasses and entry onto Highway 82. The construction of these interchanges would permit the free flow of traffic from west of El Jebel to Aspen as well as the free flow of traffic in and around El Jebel.
The developers of the Tree Farm project should pay for these facilities — if they intend to proceed. It is the Tree Farm project that would impose huge costs on commuters from Rifle, Silt, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale east to Basalt and Aspen. It is the Tree Farm project that would raise the cost of doing business in Aspen and Basalt. The developers of the Tree Farm project must pay the cost of the road modifications — even if that eliminates the profits from the project.
Let me add that this demand is not unusual. Developers of large projects across the United States are often required to pay for infrastructure improvements. Eagle and Pitkin County should demand such concessions from Tree Farm.
Developers should be made to pay the costs of the interchange. The proponents of the Tree Farm development should not be allowed to impose higher costs on those trying to move to and from the west of El Jebel to Basalt and Aspen.