Letter: In regard to Tennessee Pass rail line
It is with a wry smile that I’ve been following the articles by Randy Wyrick and Jason Blevins about restoring rail service over Tennessee Pass through Eagle county. When I was first elected to the Vail Town Council in 1995 I was appointed to the Eagle County Regional Transportation Authority as town representative.
Part of my board duty was liaison with the newly-formed Eagle County Trails Committee. In that capacity, Ellie Caryl (the person responsible for most of the hard work and planning of our current county bike paths) and I attended numerous meetings to establish a plan for Colorado State Parks to oversee a rail trail from Dotsero to Canon City. This was a multi-jurisdictional effort with representatives from Eagle, Lake, and Chaffee counties; the U.S. Forest Service; State Parks and a few other alphabet agencies.
The meetings were fun as all the participants could envision how a railroad-grade trail stretching for 163 miles through the central Rockies would be an alluring ride for cyclists from all over the state and country. The meetings wrapped up in late 1997 with a blueprint for the trail agreed to by all parties. The plan was awarded the “Smart Growth & Development Award” by then-Gov. Roy Romer in 1998.
Having gotten used to not having freight trains running through the Eagle River valley I thought it might be time to dust off that plan. Part of the planning effort for the trail anticipated that passenger train service might one day be feasible; the right of way can accommodate limited rail service and the trail. Given a choice between freight trains or tourists enjoying our great Colorado lands through Camp Hale over Tennessee Pass, my vote would be for passive recreation.