The proposed high-speed rail system connecting Jefferson County to Summit and Eagle counties is still in the not-in-our-lifetime planning stage. Nevertheless, Summit County officials are beginning to look at proposed sites that have the space to accommodate the rail stations, with their platforms, ticket buildings, and Starbucks.
Planning should also include places to park for the 100,000 or so new residents of Summit County who finally realize their dream of living in ski country once a 60-minute commute is feasible, turning Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne into bedroom communities.
So I dusted off my planning goggles and envisioned a ski weekend with the family in this new era.
I must clarify that when I say “high-speed rail,” I am not referring to a new feature in the terrain park. Rather, CDOT plans to put in a fast train with the carrying capacity of 4,900 passengers per hour (about the capacity of three Cadillac Escalades).
But, as a potential user, representative of people living in close proximity of their neighbors in developments that sit atop what once were broom straw fields, I find myself caught between the two mutually exclusive desires.
On the one hand, we want to reduce carbon emissions. On the other hand, we love our Porshe/Audi/Volvo/Escalade/SUV/crossover-but-not-a-truck/thingy. Did I mention the leather interior and the heated seats?
In this little fantasy, I am watching the weather at 10 p.m. It’s snowing heavily in the high country. Two feet are forecast before morning on top of the 7 feet that fell in the past week. I am psyched.
I set the alarm for 1:45 a.m. and head to bed. I wake up with the alarm, head to the kitchen to get the coffee going. It’s quiet. I wake up the kids.
I put the skis and poles into the box atop our car, then toss in the plastic trunk full of hand warmers, gloves, neck gaiters, sunscreen, windscreen, Jolly Ranchers, energy bars and peanut butter sandwiches. We’re off to the train station in Lakewood.
We arrive, park six levels underground, and I begin to unload five pairs of skis and poles, plus a trunk full of our accessories. To my surprise, several porters arrive and help gather our gear. I ask one what he does in the summer. He tells me that he is a sign-spinner. I think, “job creation.”
For us, the train experience has to be as quick as driving while retaining some of the amenities that made our vehicle so appealing.
Planners accomplished this by paying close attention to detail. The porters store our skis away in a convenient location. Our cabin literally is a private bubble that fits our family perfectly. It was just the McAbees.
Often, when we travel together in a car, we use this captive time with our kids to discuss personal family issues like “who tooted?” or “What should we expect with puberty?” We also like to sing at the top of our lungs, sometimes 79 times in a row. Fun, I tell you.
The bubble allows us to really engage with nature, especially when she calls and we have to go potty. We’ve got a restroom nearby and a coffee pot for the adults.
There are four stops along the way, which go by quickly. Sadly, the train doesn’t stop at Loveland. Nothing has kept Loveland overlooked more since Vail Resorts issued the Epic Pass.
When we finally arrive at the station in Summit County, we disembark our private cabin and step onto the heated platform. Just off this oasis is a fleet of official ski country smart SUVs provided by Volvo. I swipe my smart phone, back it out of the rack and drive it to baggage claim.
In a few years, our kids will be old enough to ride the gondola that connects the train station to the lift system that now traverses all the peaks of the Ten Mile Range plus Copper and Keystone. But for now, we drive to Breck, park, and drop the kids off in ski school.
It’s 11 a.m. and it’s stopped snowing. My wife and I notice that 2 feet of fresh snow has been skied off already and is all tracked up.
Read more: McAbee: The fantasy of high-speed rail – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/ci_21537988/fantasy-high-speed-rail#ixzz2kYCBFHvg
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