Update Oct 2014 down below ****
In order for this to make sense, start here. Then, here. Ok, here today is part three. They have finally agreed on a solution. Apparently, there was a fourth consideration I wasn’t aware of. In order to ease congestion on the i-70, they are going to charge a toll to use it. It will be $5 a pop to use the freeway to get into the mountains. Why? Lot’s of reasons. One is that by charging such a toll, less people will use it. Indeed, congestion is an issue, so their is limited virtue in that thought process.
The other reason is to raise money for the widening. Yes, apparently we are widening and tolling. Basically, everyone loses. See, we have no money for the freeway fixins. I mean, on it’s face it makes sense. Except:
What the heck are my tax dollars paying for? Is this not now a law to keep poor people from camping? Is this not an elitist and short term solution? What about people who commute every day? Is this designed just to punish tourists? I thought that is what hotel and rental car taxes were for. This solution is stupid, and angers me. I don’t want to pay a toll to use my mountains and roads. Also, I don’t want my mountains paved over with roads. Nobody does, that is why we call them the Rocky Mountains… not the Rocky Mountain Roads. Maybe Coors should get rid of their current logo and just have a stretch of pavement as their icon.
Let’s say you widen the road from two lanes each way to three lanes each way. That is 33% more traffic. You see that, I guess. I see 33% more pollution, plus an absolute dreaded ten year construction cycle marring the mountains. Oh, and a bonus $5 per way levee to sit in construction for the next ten years. Right now, we need an obstructionist! John Caldera, where are you?
*** update Oct 2014
It’s been 6 or 7 years, and not much has happened. Well, they tried metering. Unlike assholes like me, who sit on their couch and decry the efforts of those trying solutions. It was a great idea. It was counter intuitive and most definitely out of the box thinking. It worked, but not nearly to the level they needed it to. I totally respect the effort, though. In the 17 years I have been here, it is the most anyone has done about anything… except studies. I respect the CDOT like hell for not just sitting around and waiting for someone to hand them 200 million bucks.
The other update is this; someone recently suggested banning big rigs from the freeway. That is dumb, short sighted… and (most importantly) mean. The trucker’s aren’t the problem. If they were, it wouldn’t just be on Sunday afternoons heading East back to Denver. It’s the skiers. I am not blaming the skiers. Well, actually, I am. It is the skiers. However, they are super duper critical to the success of the mountain towns economies. To ban skiers is as dumb as banning trucks.
Last Winter (that of 2013) was a breaking point… to me at least. It became a 10 hour struggle to make it the 11 miles from Dillon, CO (the first town at the base of i-70 once you cross the tunnel) to the tunnel. Ten hours… in a snowstorm. Does your car have fuel for ten hours? Do you pack ten hours worth of food when you go skiing? You can’t turn your car off, either, to save fuel. You need the heat. Last fall we took a trip and got stuck in that, and ended up taking the most terrifying detour around I have ever experienced as a driver. Knowing it was going to be shitty, I bought $50 worth of jerky. It was a lifesaver.
I want to clarify something. I am not bitching. Well, I was. I am older and wiser now. I love Colorado. I love the mountains. I love my truck. I was reminded of this recently when I saw a freeway sign in Los Angeles. It said “you are not in traffic, you are the traffic”. So, I don’t want to come off as a nimby. I am absolutely a part of the problem here, being a driver. This is why I have a vested interest in making things better. It’s selfish.
Here is the big concern, very soon it is going to be deadly. Someone is going to run our of medication stuck on that road. Once the backup starts, you can’t get off. You are packed in. You can’t pull of the road or even turn around. They can’t get an ambulance or a wrecker to you. Even if you called 911 they could not get a medivac helicopter to you, because this happens during snow storms.
I know no one wants to think about it, or spend that much, but I have the solution. It isn’t cheap or easy or maybe even fair. It will solve everything, and works long term. I said it ten years ago, and I’ll say it again. I am just waiting for you yahoos to to figure out that I was correct. Monorail.
To follow up, I don’t travel the i-70 anymore. It is too big a pain in the ass on weekends. We do all our camping out the 285. It’s a much more pleasureable drive.
In addition, this discussion has been going on for 12 years (at least) and nothing has happened. No solutions, the moutain roads still suck ass, all we get are studies.
Me? I favor the monorail idea. It is a smaller footprint, lowers pollution, and works in all weather. Boo ya!
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