Letter: Praying for a traffic trinity
What would it take for three practical, sensible people to run for Aspen mayor and City Council seats at the same time? First, it would be helpful to have a simple, pragmatic issue around which they could rally, thereby distinguishing themselves from the current political establishment.
I served on the Traffic Committee in 1984. We were about a dozen Aspen residents who regularly attended meetings, and we eventually looked at 19 different proposals for the Entrance to Aspen. Our efforts corresponded with the preparation of the State Highway 82 East of Basalt to Aspen Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
We all compromised; nobody got exactly the option they originally favored. The four-lane highway design we finally agreed upon was adopted into the environmental-impact-statement process by the state and then was approved by 58 percent of Aspen voters. You can see the diagram of that highway design at http://www.entrancesolution.com by clicking on the “Page 2” link and looking at the illustration on the left or by clicking again on the “Original Direct Connection Illustration” link at the top of the page.
The state Legislature approved a special expenditure, the final version of the environmental-impact statement was ready to be released, construction was ready to begin, and then something happened that violates everything you think you know about how the democratic process should work.
A mayor and two council members, Bill Stirling, Bill Tuite and Frank Peters, defied the vote and refused to approve the transfer of the necessary property to the state, and the state, under then-Gov. Roy Romer, declined to condemn the property.
All the noise that has occurred since is irrelevant. A great big hairy court case was decided in 2004 in which the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that any alternative that had been “fully evaluated” in the environmental-impact-statement process could be built without requiring a whole new process. The highway design found at the website above is fully evaluated.
In 2013, another great big case was decided by the Colorado Supreme Court, and it determined who may proceed to implement a fully evaluated highway design approved by the voters. The Aspen City Council can move forward in partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation anytime it chooses to do so.
When I say that all it would take to fix the Entrance to Aspen is a mayor and two council members, it is because that’s all it took to create this mess in the first place.
In this, my next letter, I had planned to talk about why people are afraid to state the obvious — the emperor-has-no-clothes phenomenon. That plan was overtaken by events. The 14 elected officials who just voted to spend $494,000 to once again “study” light rail at the Entrance to Aspen have insulted the intelligence of every taxpayer in Pitkin County. No matter how many more times you study light rail, it still won’t have anything to do with fixing traffic congestion.
It’s time to cut the crap and fix the entrance. We need three qualified candidates. Step up.
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