Letter: Valley transportation
Andy Stone’s article on valley transportation (“Traffic-jam rage, willful stupidity and one bright idea,” Commentary, The Aspen Times, Aug. 12) is so full of misconceptions and errors that its hard to know where to start.
Let’s look at where we are today. We have a modern high-speed bus system that goes end to end in the valley in about an hour. During rush hour, it runs on an every-15-minute schedule. Try that on a proposed single-track rail system! In addition, we have a paved pedestrian/bicycle path that is a major tourist draw and recreation opportunity for valley residents. This was all pushed through by a visionary and gutsy head of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. As one who has used it daily, it is remarkably easy, even with skis. To accuse the management of “willful ignorance, blindness, dishonesty and pigheaded stupidity” is just plain wrong. RFTA has been a whipping boy lately.
The concept of a train system was flawed from the start; the cost would have been way beyond the capability of a valley of 35,000 people. The idea that Washington would help poor little Aspen finance it was pure fantasy. The thought that we had useable tracks also was fantasy. If he had walked the tracks as I have, he would have seen rusted, twisted rails on rotted tie bars — it could not have supported a modern train system, new tracks would have to have been laid. Selling the rails was a godsend to help finance the trail system. In addition, the entrance of the rail system into Aspen was problematic. It probably would have had to stop at the airport and there would likely have been 10 years of wrangling over that, knowing the Aspen political scene. There was an “in-depth” study carried out with many participants (including me) that made the decision. There was an emotional push to rail, but cooler heads prevailed.
There may be, sometime in the distant future, a technology that will allow a new solution to the transportation problem. We would all welcome it.
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With much sorrow I heard of the passing of a good friend Bruce Berger. He was a man for all seasons, a pianist, prolific author, environmentalist, and lover of Aspen.