Think beyond our interests |

Think beyond our interests

My Side
Glenn Vawter

T his year my wife and I and many other Class of ’55ers will celebrate the 50th anniversary of graduation from high school in Glenwood. It brought to mind the question, “What do we want our community to be 50 years from now?”

Personally, I do not see many of our leaders or vocal citizens thinking in those terms.

Do we want to be known as the traffic hub between Vail and Aspen, or a place visitors and residents view as a community they find enjoyable and culturally attractive? I certainly believe it is the latter.

The traffic on Grand Avenue has become unbearable, and it is long overdue that we build the bypass, or whatever palatable word we wish to call it. It has been discussed for decades, but nothing happened because of the parochial interests in our area.

First, businessmen on Grand Avenue stopped constructive action, thinking it would ruin their businesses. Now people cannot stop and find a place to park, and walking along the sidewalks is anything but pleasant with all the trucks and exhaust fumes. Grand Avenue should be a two-lane street with trees and walkways, much like downtown Grand Junction. That can only happen with a bypass like every other town in our region has built.

I did not attend any of the recent transportation meetings because I came to understand that the so-needed bypass was not to be discussed because it is not doable. How shortsighted can we be?

Traffic in our town is not just a Glenwood problem. It is a regional problem involving the poor folks that have to commute through our town to get to and from their jobs. And considering the population increase projections, it is going to get much worse.

Personally, I don’t care if traffic is diverted along the old railroad grade, through a tunnel or on columns over the Roaring Fork. Midland should have been the route, but we have missed that opportunity. Cost should be no object. The longer we wait, the more it will cost. Let’s get on with it by pulling together with the regional transportation district, the state highway department, and our city, county, state and national elected officials. It will take the support of all of them to get the job done.

On another, but similar, issue, I am so distressed when I read about the competition between roads, trails and rails. We need them all, and they can all be accommodated with proper planning and cooperation. The effort by Floyd Diemoz and his team in achieving those goals for Glenwood Canyon can serve as a good model. Bringing together the disparate groups on a regional basis would be a good starting point.

The cost of commuting by automobile is going to continue to escalate as gasoline prices spiral. The need for passenger rail service from Aspen to Glenwood is essential for the long term. But there is little support for the idea and lots of objections, especially upvalley. I would think Aspenites would see the value in a European model of rail service, but it is not a widely held view.

For the sake of our grandchildren, let’s start thinking out of the box and end the parochialism so prevalent in this wonderful valley we call home.

Then we can look back 50 years from now knowing we did the right thing.

Glenn Vawter is a Glenwood Springs resident.

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