Letter: RFTA isn’t a good partner

Floyd Diemoz
Glenwood Springs

John Stroud’s recent PI articles on the Roaring Fork Transit Authority’s (RFTA) roadblock to solving our Grand Avenue traffic problems are very good.

In March 2007, a Highway 82 Corridor Optimization Study was finalized for the city, county and CDOT for review. The report’s most appropriate and affordable solution to our traffic problem is referred to as the “Railroad Right of Way Corridor” located on the east upper bank of the Roaring Fork River and is found on pages 30-38 of the report.

Three years later, Mike McDill, Glenwood’s city engineer, received a letter from Jacque Whitsitt, vice chair of RFTA dated Feb. 11, 2010. The letter states: “The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority joins the Colorado Department of Transportation in expressing its support for the City of Glenwood Springs’ SH82 Optimization Plan Process … RFTA (however) must confirm (to you) that its railroad right-of-way through Glenwood Springs is not available for such a purpose … it may be prudent to specify that this-right-of-way is excluded from consideration so as not to unreasonably influence expectation.”

Bruce Christensen, RFTA chairman and Glenwood’s mayor, was contacted for his comments. Christensen said, “It is vital to keep the rail corridor intact the length of the valley to ensure that trains remain an option. We need to say, very, very loud that (the) corridor is sacred … if the tract was removed there would never be rail.”

The city’s March 2011 Comprehensive Plan parroted RFTA’S warning: It will work with RFTA to preserve and protect the rail corridor for potential rail operations (page 59-60). Today’s council, however, is asking RFTA to reverse its mandate. I ask; if a railroad can become a bicycle road, why can’t a railroad become an automobile road? They’re all transportation.

The city has contributed mightily to RFTA’s coffers from the 1 percent sales tax in Glenwood. It’s totaled roughly $17 million from 2010 through 2014. As a gentleman, I believe RFTA’s attitude in not neighborly. To be blunt, in 2010, we were told, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Will RFTA ever regret condemning Glenwood to be forever cut in two by Highway 82?

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