RFTA ready to roll out $128 million bus plan | PostIndependent.com

RFTA ready to roll out $128 million bus plan

Lynn BurtonPost Independent Staff

The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is almost ready to unveil a proposed $128 million bus-oriented transit system.The bus option is one of three in the authority’s Corridor Investment Study.The other two options are to take no action on the Highway 82 corridor, other than to honor previous commitments, or to build a commuter rail line between Aspen and West Glenwood Springs, said RFTA development director Alice Hubbard.Hubbard said the bus option would make the system “the best that it can be” in several ways. Call the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the new system would include heated bus stops, like the Ruby Park stop in Aspen. At least one park-and-ride lot would be constructed in each town along the route. Highway improvements would allow buses to reach their destinations more quickly. Buses would even be equipped with global positioning systems, so that riders could know, via the Internet or a phone call, exactly when buses will arrive and depart from each stop.The authority is asking the federal government for $64 million to fund half of the BRT. Hubbard said the other half of the $128 million price tag would be split between the authority and the state of Colorado.If the BRT receives full funding, it could be running by the end of 2008. Until then, the authority plans to start building the system in increments, Hubbard said.The authority expects to use $2 million for the BRT that had been earmarked for an environmental impact statement that is no longer required, now that rail is no longer a viable option.The authority plans to release its 500-page Corridor Investment Study (CIS) on Monday, May 12, then make the rounds explaining it to the authority’s seven cities, towns and counties, and to civic groups.After the presentations, each of the cities, towns and counties will be asked to pass resolutions supporting one of the three options.Then the seven-member authority board will vote on which option to pursue.”This should close the book on the Corridor Investment Study,” Hubbard said.The CIS process started in January 1998. “We had an enormous number of public meetings,” Hubbard said.The commuter train option occupied most of the CIS process until 2000, when it became apparent the Roaring Fork Valley probably could not pay for a $300 million commuter rail system.Since 2000, the former Roaring Fork Transit Agency concentrated on two tasks: forming the Roaring Fork Transit Authority, which includes Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Snowmass Village, and Pitkin and Eagle counties; and creating a BRT.The rail corridor project started in 1997, when local governments bought the old Denver & Rio Grande rail right-of-way from Woody Creek to Glenwood Springs.The first big step after the purchase was creating a comprehensive plan for the right-of-way, which was completed in 1999.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.com


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