Letter from Keith Baker
Transportation – October 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine
Dear Ed & Martha,
I am happy to see someone else speculating about the possibilities our unused railroad offers the region (the thoughtful letter “Putting Tennessee Pass Back Into Service,” September Colorado Central).
As you know from our personal correspondence, I’ve given thought to light passenger and packet cargo service along this rail line. The train could be small, the schedule could be modest and still be convenient, and we could relax, read, or nap during trips up or down Valley.
I envision park-and-ride type lots and bike lockers at the key stops. County and municipal trails would feed into the system but a “gear car” would allow riders to carry a bicycle, power chair, or similar equipment. Major stops would include Salida and Buena Vista, and these would probably be the initial line ends. Seasonal or conditional stops could include Granite (if service grows to include Leadville and Canon City, to become truly regional), Nathrop, Hecla, and perhaps others. Regional light rail would be part of an answer to increased tourist traffic as well.
There should be concomitant decreases in the traffic volume along the highway. It is already processional between Buena Vista and Salida. That leads to unsafe driving practices. The volume will only get worse, and CDOT’s draft Regional Traffic Plan 2035 does nothing to reduce the volume and very little to deal with it.
The decrease in vehicular traffic should help preserve our regional air quality. I doubt anyone wants to see our air quality and views damaged by increased exhaust fumes. And just imagine what it would be like to enjoy the trip through Brown’s Canyon!
The Libertarian in me prefers to see a private concern make this happen, but in reality some sort of public-private partnership would be needed. Our elected officials and state transportation authorities must act now for regional light rail service to be in place, in time.
Regional light rail service will help preserve our western mountain environment and is a link back to our heritage.