Precedent set for Rio Grande Access

Sep 10, 2015

ACES's Rock Bottom Ranch
Credit Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies was denied their rail corridor license request when they went before the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board last month. Yesterday, they came back with a modified proposal that increases safety measures and clarifies the location of the two desired connection points between the Rio Grande Trail and their Rock Bottom Ranch Eco-Education Trail System.

The board grappled with inconsistencies between their role as stewards of the rail line, and the wording of their current Access Control Plan - which states that any and all access should be granted. Carbondale Mayor and RFTA Board member Stacey Bernot said that her administration has not requested trail-to-trail hook ups to the Rio Grande out of respect for RFTA and the corridor's mass transit restrictions. She said approval of the ACES request will result in Carbondale putting forth license applications, and she expected Glenwood Springs would follow suit, as well as towns that currently have no access to the Rio Grande, like El Jebel.

Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron and Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt both expressed concern that an influx of access points to the trail would greatly change its character and safety. Skadron was the only board member to vote against the Rock Bottom Ranch Trail connectors, through Whitsitt asked for a review of the Access Control Plan at next month’s board meeting.