Letter: Citizens Against RFTA (CAR)
I think it is time we all know why progress in our valley is so hard to accomplish. It is called Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
The RFTA boys have delayed and denied at least three worthwhile projects in the valley, projects we all agree need to be completed soon.
The first is the Eighth Street connection to the west end of town. Why do we put up with a serpentine route to get to Midland Avenue? Doesn’t it seem silly? Wouldn’t a straight shot down Eighth Street in front of the courthouse and City Hall would be much more effective?
It would require a rail crossing. We passed a transportation bond issue a few years ago to build this. The money was spent by previous city councils to, you guessed it, build trails. I will tell you why we haven’t done it. RFTA has stepped in with a set of requirements to protect their rail banking authority. Rail banking preserves the trail corridor from here to Aspen. It allows RFTA to operate on a previous rail corridor without paying the people that own the property under the trail. All this is done to pretend they would once again put a rail on this corridor. If there was a proposal to put rail on that corridor there would be no end to the opposition by the users of the existing trail. Much government money has been spent to improve this trail under the assumption that this trail would be preserved in perpetuity.
The second obstruction by RFTA is at the proposed South Bridge intersection near the Holy Cross buildings south of town. All the engineering and studies have been done, and it seemed we were ready to find the money and get it built. But wait, RFTA stepped in at a late date and dictated a very expensive rail crossing to protect the rail banking. Of course that seemed absurd to the builders and they saw nothing but a trail crossing, not a rail crossing. RFTA considered this and agreed to a modest crossing, only if the builders would give them several million dollars to hold as a guarantee that the elaborate crossing could be built later if needed. Extortion if you ask me.
The third obstruction also came at a late date, at the end of planning for a county approved PUD west of Cattle Creek. Not only did RFTA mandate an expensive crossing but they also wanted the crossing to be owned by a government entity. That was a deal breaker for now.
I propose as citizens we pay enough attorneys to break the stranglehold RFTA has on this valley and get them out of the “NO” business. The users of these trails and the government entities that support them should relinquish their hold on the rail banking and pay the property owners for the use they have had for free all these years. I don’t even need to mention the other RFTA fumbles, (maybe I do) like the sinking bus barn repaired by taxpayers or the 27th Street terminal with minimal parking. So much wrong …
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