Hasan: Monorail not crazy | VailDaily.com

Hasan: Monorail not crazy

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Funding and building a mountain monorail system in the near future is realistic, said state candidate Muhammad Ali Hasan.

Hasan, a Republican running for the State House of Representatives District 56, which includes Eagle County, outlined his plan to have a monorail, or similar transportation system, built by 2014.

His opponent, Democrat and incumbent Christine Scanlan, advocates adding more lanes to Interstate 70 and studying a monorail.

“We could study this forever,” Hasan said at a candidate forum hosted by the Vail Board of Realtors on Thursday. “If you want more lanes, I’m not your guy. f you want mass transit and monorail, I’m your guy.”

Scanlan could not attend the forum because she had jury duty. She will speak at the forum for the Avon Town Council next Tuesday instead.

Critics have challenged Hasan’s idea, saying that there is neither funding nor the technology, but Hasan said that isn’t true. Similar technology has been used in Switzerland and Japan for nearly a decade, he said.

Also, building a new lane would cost an estimated $4 billion, compared to $5 billion for a monorail, which could be paid for through private funds, federal grants , ski-pass revenue, and maybe a new sales tax, he said.

Scanlan has said she thinks it would cost much more than $5 billion.

Even if a small tax is needed or the state needs to borrow to build the project, it is worth the cost, Hasan said.

“It’s not going to break the bank,” he said. “Also, with the benefits, we’re the ones that will really win.”

He said that House Minority Leader, Republican Mike May, has promised Hasan a place on the transportation committee if elected. From there he plans to work with other people from both parties, he said.

His plan is to introduce a statewide ballot issue that would be voted on by the public. The plan would be to build a light rail from Pueblo to Fort Collins and a monorail from Denver International Airport to the Eagle airport, effectively encompassing most of the major areas of the state.

The proposal would limit the time the state Legislature has to approve the project to a couple years. He wants to partner with the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority and get the project built by 2014.

In 2001, Colorado voters rejected spending $50 million in state funds to test a monorail.

Meanwhile, enforcing the snow chain laws on I-70 are a short-term solution, he said.

Hasan also criticized the I-70 Coalition, a group of lawmakers and leaders who have been researching solutions for the interstate. The group recommended adding more lanes and researching a rail for the future.

“I’m not going to support that plan,” Hasan said. “It bothers me that (the coalition) has been organized for about three years, and their conclusion is to add more lanes and study a monorail? Did it really take three years to come to that conclusion?”

The Beaver Creek resident also defended his campaign financing ” Hasan has spent nearly $200,000 of his own money on the campaign.

“I don’t want to go there and have a bunch of IOUs. I want to go and not owe anyone anything,” he said. “Yes, there is a lot of personal investment, but its for a reason.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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