This discussion is obsolete, but has been left up for historical context. 

Step by step guide to the proposed Ordinances:

The two ordinances differ only in the physical description of the two alternatives, so this discussion will serve as an explanation of both. If you really like to get into the details, you can print out both the Direct Connection and Modified Direct complete ordinances, and follow along.

The Title, all in caps, simply states the purpose of the ordinance – approve specific uses for property conveyed by the City of Aspen to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

The first three “WHEREAS” paragraphs provide the background of previous actions which establish the context for the current proposed ordinances.  The trail runs from the election outcome of 1996, which resulted in light rail being named as the preferred alternative in the Record of Decision (ROD); which then led to the creation of a Memorandum of  Understanding and Right-of-Way Easement agreement between the state and the city which precluded any other use for the city owned property.

The second and fourth paragraphs note the fact that the 1996 election was a conditional approval of light rail, and that the voters have subsequently declined to satisfy the conditions.

The fifth paragraph gets to the heart of the matter.  It has been the policy of the City of Aspen to preserve congestion at the Entrance to Aspen in an effort to increase transit ridership.

Paragraph six deals with the notion that once you have a Record of Decision, the preferred alternative is all but set in stone.  Not so, according to the United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

So, the 10th Circuit says we can have a different preferred alternative, but there are two documents which contain provisions making all but the light rail alternative impossible: the Memorandum of Understanding (which is incorporated into the Record of Decision), and the Right-of-Way Easement agreement. Both documents can have the particular "allowed use" altered without touching many of the other provisions.

The last “whereas” paragraph points out the obvious.  If the ordinance is adopted, that action itself indicates a desire on the part of the citizens of Aspen to name a new preferred alternative, as described in the ordinance.


The property conveyed to CDOT will be subject to the approved uses contained in the ordinance, and prior authorizations which conflict are rescinded.

Next, we have the new allowed uses in Section 1.

The opening paragraph substitutes a four lane highway configuration for the two lane parkway and light rail system found in current documents. 

Paragraph 1.  Acknowledges that additional processes at the state level, in accordance with regulations established at the federal level, will need to be completed, and a revised ROD prepared, before construction can proceed.

Paragraph 2.  There may be other reasons why CDOT and the FHWA may choose to shoulder some of the financial burden, but simply approving this agreement won’t obligate them to do so.

Paragraph 3.  Describes what we’ll be building.

Paragraph 4.  It seems very unlikely the roundabout was developed with the idea that there would be four lanes of general traffic using the entrance most of the time, because the assumption was for two lanes and rail.  The Direct Connection was evaluated with a standard intersection, and the Modified Direct shows a roundabout, and we really ought to leave to highway engineers decisions regarding highway engineering.  This is also why both illustrations were edited to stop short of the Castle/Maroon/Highway 82 intersection.

The same sentiments apply when determining where the transition from Main Street to Highway 82 HOV lanes should occur.  We wanted to avoid a situation where they had to start at Seventh Street regardless of the mess it might create.  
Paragraph 5.  In keeping with the idea that the city will abandon the practice of creating congestion on purpose, we wanted to avoid a situation where, for example, the city asks the state to restrict the HOV lanes to vehicles with ten or more passengers.

Paragraph 6.  Confirms the intent to allow the addition of a light rail transit system at such time as community support and financing become available.

Paragraph 7, a to g.  Most of this follows conditions included in the original 1996 ballot question which proposed the two lanes plus rail design, but adds reference to Figure 1, which depicts the intended four lane highway design.

Paragraph 8.  A flexibility clause, intended to insure that the boundaries set in 2002 don’t interfere with the best possible expression of the new preferred alternative.  The City Charter requires that land acquired for open space purposes must be replaced by open space of the same or greater value, but that was satisfied by a wide margin by the specific land trade carried out under the Right-Of-Way Easement agreement of 2002.

Paragraphs 9 & 10.  Language borrowed from the Right-Of-Way Easement, giving the city some oversight of the project.

Section 2.  An acknowledgement that the policy of purposely preserving congestion to encourage transit ridership will be abandoned in favor of increasing highway capacity in order to actually relieve congestion.

Section 3.  A standard severability clause.  For example, if the land trade proportions discussed in paragraph 7 somehow resulted in a violation of the provisions of the City Charter, the charter would probably prevail.


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