By Ralph Trenary
Back in the good old days I watched “The Wild, Wild West” every Saturday morning on TV. Then there was the 1973 RTD plan that promised monorail Personal Rapid Transit by 1983. Teenagers can believe in miracles and this looked like a great future. I still have the orange book with the great pictures. It just doesn’t seem fair that James West had a railcar that rivaled the Bat Cave and I’m still risking my life and sanity driving on I-25.
For over 10 years, I had business trips to Washington, D.C., every couple of months. After a handful of trips, I wised up and stopped getting a rental car. There were good shuttle bus systems and by choosing the right hotel everything else I needed connected to the Metro. I did my best to explain the simplicity and cost savings of this travel plan to my co-workers. After these trips, I would come home and face the trials and tribulations of “windshield time.”
Windshield time is a waste and the unending scenarios of Colorado drivers having little choice except to grab the steering wheel and go is a formula for disaster. Regrettably, there are some among us who practice a worshipful addiction to hour upon hour of highway driving and would condemn us all to that fate.
I suppose this issue deserves the full scope of free speech tolerance, but the policies of our elected bodies cannot follow such smoke and mirrors of the tires and asphalt lobby. Thankfully, the Berthoud Chamber of Commerce and Town Board of Trustees are leading the cause of restoring passenger rail service. Other government, business and community leaders will do well to follow their example.
One look at the artwork shown during the recent public meetings on the North I-25 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) made me a believer. The possible Berthoud rail station picture included in Package A was inspiring. Then I checked again on the exponential business and residential growth along the light rail corridors in RTD-land. This is the clear truth of rail-based transit in 21st century Colorado that dispels “no-rail” doom and gloom predictions that were being published in 1989-1990.
Friends and neighbors, the simple truth is that we are at a decision-point to either continue the policies and procedures of the past 50 years by pouring more asphalt and concrete, creating toll roads for European companies to operate, and hope that people will pile into buses; or we can apply 21st century technology to get trains back on the tracks that can move people, and help grow homes and businesses in our town.
Now I’m not really hoping for my own copy of Artemus’ and James’ fancy crime laboratory and sitting room on rails. What I do imagine as an alternative to 60 minutes with my fists locked to the steering wheel between here and downtown Denver. That’s the optimistic time without construction, accidents or snowstorms. I’ll settle for 90 minutes in any weather condition on a train reading my newspapers, eating a breakfast burrito purchased at a store next to that Main Street rail station, and a chance to do something productive with my legal pad, cell-phone or computer.
So, what’s it going to be, buses and toll-roads along I-25, or the chance to ride the train and boost economic growth in our towns? Now is the time to join with the Berthoud Chamber and Trustees and make a stand for rail and the I-25 EIS Package A.
To have your voice heard on this decision, call or write the Colorado Department of Transportation at (970) 352-5455 or submit your comments online at the CDOT Web site at www.dot.state.co.us/NorthI25eis/contact.cfm.