Gas unlikely to slow summer crowds |

Gas unlikely to slow summer crowds

Allen Best

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Businesses in Jackson Hole are expecting no dampening of visitors as a result of gas prices surging past $2 a gallon. Call volume to the chamber office there is actually up, and reservations supervisors say that gas prices are not a major concern – at least at this point – among potential visitors. At the Grand Teton Lodge Co., chief operating officer John Rutter reports busy phones and a summer business that looks “pretty solid.”Idaho may learn from AspenKETCHUM, Idaho – Can Idaho’s Wood River Valley learn from Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley as regards traffic congestion? Ex-state highway engineer Ralph Trapani thinks so.Trapani, who supervised construction of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon, was also responsible for the ongoing expansion to four lanes of an 18-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 82 from Aspen to Basalt.In a lecture in Idaho, Trapani explained that traffic gridlock into Aspen was threatening to paralyze the economy. In response, the various governments in the Roaring Fork Valley – there are three county governments alone – agreed to both more asphalt and to more public transportation.State highway officials almost 40 years ago had been willing to four-lane the highway into Aspen, but reeling from frantic growth in the 1960s and early 1970s, local officials had doggedly resisted making Aspen too easy to get to. Only in the 1990s did they relent.Trapani, now a consultant, said he particularly favors high-occupancy vehicle lanes in busy corridors. He said such lanes – if monitored by police – can be combined with buses to reduce overall traffic. Paid parking in downtown Aspen has also encouraged more use of mass transit, he suggested.Full attention devoted to wildfiresPARK CITY, Utah Count Summit County in Utah among those places concerned enough about the potential of wildfires to put a full-time employee on staff for planning and evaluation.That fire warden, Bryce Boyer, warned that this year could be as bad as 2002. The major cause is the continuing drought, which in turn has left forests not only drier, but also more vulnerable to bark beetles, which in turn kill trees and make them more flammable, he told The Park Record. The warmer winters have beetle populations more verging on epidemic stage.

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