IT’S TIME FOR A “DAY WITHOUT THE DOWNVALLEY”
by Todd Hartley
I don’t usually wade into other people’s arguments, particularly in online comment sections, but I read an exchange of viewpoints recently on The Aspen Times’ website that I figured I could have a little fun with, so here goes. The names have been changed because I don’t feel like giving either guy the publicity, but other than that this is mostly real.
The first chap — call him Chet — is a frequent writer of letters to the editor about his favorite subject, which happens to be the Entrance to Aspen and its resultant traffic issues. Chet is very much against the status quo, fervently believes Highway 82 should make a four-lane straight shot into downtown Aspen and loves to tell people about it. In fact, Chet writes so many letters to the editor about the subject and has been doing it for so long that I think most people have largely tuned him out by now.
I say largely because, apparently, not everyone in Aspen has learned to turn a deaf ear. Our second chap — call him Biff — actually took the time to respond to Chet’s latest missive in the comments section on the website. Biff, judging by his response, must live in Aspen, and he thinks the current setup, with all the traffic funneled through the two-lane S-curves, is just dandy.
Biff’s reply was snarky as hell and represented an opinion that I think, unfortunately, a lot of Aspenites have toward the rest of the people who live in the Roaring Fork Valley. He basically said that Chet’s opinion didn’t count since he doesn’t live in Aspen, and that if the S-curves didn’t exist, he would pay to have it built. Ultimately, his reply to Chet amounted to: “If you don’t like Aspen’s traffic problem, don’t come to Aspen.”
As someone who happens to think Chet is absolutely right, I got to thinking after reading Biff’s comments, which I just happened to do on the same day as the much-ballyhooed “A Day Without a Woman” protests. That’s when I realized that I could have some fun with this, because I think Biff is right, too; anyone who doesn’t like the traffic in Aspen should stay away.
With that in mind, I’m going to push Biff’s own agenda and organize “A Day Without the Downvalley” protest. It’ll be really simple. Basically, for one day, everyone who commutes into Aspen for work is going to call in sick and stay home. We’ll see how well that works out.
No rooms or beds would get made at any of the hotels because all of the housekeepers live downvalley. Most restaurants would have to close for the day, and those that did stay open would have no one to prep the next day’s food or wash the dishes. Dishwashers certainly don’t live in Aspen.
And you know all those monster homes that drive the local economy? They’d just sit there with no one working on them because very few carpenters, laborers or even contractors live in town. Of course, a one-day respite from construction would actually be nice, but you get my point.
Let’s see, what other Aspen businesses would have to shut down for the day? Oh, yeah! Pretty much all of them. The fact is that Aspen absolutely cannot function on its own. Without the rest of this valley, Glitter Gulch would cease to be.
Now, I’m not going to waste my time rehashing the Entrance to Aspen argument. I’ve stated my opinion before, and I know that nothing is ever going to change regardless of how many millions are spent on studies saying the same things over and over again. There’s no need to beat that dead horse.
But I do take exception to Biff’s insinuation that unless you live upstream of the roundabout, you’re not an Aspenite and thus deserve to sit in traffic at the airport for 45 minutes for the right to come clean up after rich people. It’s a pretty jerky attitude.
So, for one day, I really think it would be interesting if all the downvalley workers just stayed home. The Aspen machine would inevitably grind to a halt, costing lots of people lots of money, but there would be some upsides, too.
I mean, Aspen likes to think of itself as a pretty green place, so a day without thousands of cars on the highway would be a boon to the environment.
And best of all, Biff would get exactly what he’s asking for.
Todd Hartley doesn’t commute to work; he teleports.