What happened to the light-rail solution? | AspenTimes.com

What happened to the light-rail solution?

Aspen, a beautiful mountain resort deep in the Colorado Rockies, noted for its fabulous skiing, music and the place to be and be seen. And therein lies the problem. Everyone wants to be in Aspen.

In spite of growth controls enacted years ago, Aspen continues to attract outside investors looking for golden opportunities. One need only pick up a local paper filled with real estate ads puffing the good life to realize the source of our problem.

As a result of our success, traffic has increased exponentially as service workers and construction vehicles move into and out of Aspen each day, causing long lines of traffic backing up for miles. What are we to do? Add more buses? Build more trails? Raise taxes? Will these measures solve our problem? The answer is no. Traffic congestion is valley-wide and will only increase in years to come, but we can take control of our future by planning a comprehensive, long-term light-rail solution for the valley.

In 1997, some 21 years ago, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority acquired the Rio Grande Right-of-Way. It was our hope that the acquisition would lead to a valley-wide light-rail system. At the time, Aspen was involved in demonstrating the possibilities of light rail for the valley. It was for this reason we paid $8 million to acquire the rail line from Glenwood to Woody Creek. Our intent was to provide a light rail future for the valley. Unfortunately, the track was removed for a bicycle path but the possibility of light rail still remains. Light rail is the only solution to the Roaring Fork Valley’s congestion problems. We need light rail, not more property taxes, so vote “no” on 7A.

Jim Markalunas