Put the rail aside and get on board the trail
It’s a question of trails or tracks for the Roaring Fork Transit Agency. For Garfield County, it’s a simple matter of participation and support.
The RFTA board recently voted unanimously to allow the construction of a nonmotorized trail between Emma and Hooks Lane on the existing railroad bed.
The 350-foot section will connect the El Jebel area into the trail system. Building it on the existing railroad bed allows RFTA to avoid the complicated process of constructing a trail through wetlands and an irrigation ditch.
It will also make any future rail project more difficult. But, let’s face it, a rail project connecting the Roaring Fork Valley may or may not ever come to fruition. The trail, on the other hand, already sees heavy bike and foot traffic, and there’s no reason to think any new sections wouldn’t see similarly heavy use.
Which brings us to the next hurdle for the trail – particularly for those of us farther downvalley than El Jebel.
A majority of the unbuilt trail route is in Garfield County. To date, county government leaders haven’t shown much enthusiasm, financial or political, for the project.
Traffic and parking are always hot issues, and, judging from the recent Most Consistent Bike Commuter award nominations, area commuters are willing to pedal as much as an hour to get to work.
Shouldn’t this alternative form of commuting be encouraged with a safe bike path?
A path would make it easier to leave the car in the garage, and would connect the unincorporated parts of Garfield County by something other than motorized means.
The RFTA board may decide on a broader policy concerning the railroad bed at its July 16 meeting, and, regardless of the policy decisions, Garfield County would be a nice addition to the list of trail supporters.
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