Siegel: Need to frame the issue correctly |

Siegel: Need to frame the issue correctly

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

The recent letter “Trust the transit experts” needs factual context.

The Record of Decision process sought to find the best transit and incremental transportation management program. Screening 43 alternatives against that perspective, the proposed solution — if fully built to finality — was two lanes of cars and a light rail transit track. Bus lanes were temporary because the thrust was toward light rail. That was the bias built into the screening process leading to the Preferred Alternative. 

Today, 28 years later, light rail is dead, as are other components such as the 400- foot cut and cover and tunnel under Marolt. The plan exists on paper rejected by the voters. As the city puts it, Aspen now has a different problem: an old bridge. 

The city freely admits that the Preferred Alternative is not a traffic solution and will not ease up rush hour jams. And the city recognizes that there is no mass-transit solution on the horizon. So the city properly frames the issue as infrastructure: We have an old bridge that needs to be replaced — what is the best choice?

The faulty leap of logic is clear: The city has taken a plan, the Preferred Alternative — conceived and tuned to solving one problem (mass transit) — and has assumed that it is the best solution to solving a different problem (infrastructure). There is no basis for that conclusion. It is a solution of convenience, and nothing more. There is no critical analysis based on infrastructure criteria. 

Needed is a new screening process based on 2023 realities and directed to the current question: Where is the best place to build a new bridge?

The answer to that question is one the city of Aspen will have to live with for 75 years. If we are to trust the experts, as suggested in the letter, then, at a minimum, let’s give them the relevant criteria and the correct problem to solve.

Neil B. Siegel