Do you remember when driving on roads was free? In case you are reading this and thinking ‘but, they are free!’ – I challenge you to bookmark this and come back in 5 years.
Almost every significant current, past, and future highway improvements are ALL toll roads. I resent the shit out of this, because I feel they are sneaking this past us. Who are ‘they’? You know… ‘the Man’, ‘Whitey’, Corporate America… whatever.
First, some background. Denver is growing like nuts. We were always growing like nuts, but then the pot thing happened. We need wider and faster roads. We need them bad, and we need them twenty years ago. Hell, I was writing about this 10 years ago. Proof! So… we talked about it, at a cost of studies running 100K a year. No one could agree. Well, once thing everyone agreed about – don’t widen the roads. Why not?
Widening is a temporary solution. Plus, it’s ugly. No one moved to Colorado to look at more roads. Plus… and this is a biggie… it is more pollution. Denver has a very serious pollution problem, one of the biggest in US. It’s a temperature inversion that causes the pollution to just get stuck over town. You call it the ‘brown cloud’, though. Well, we solved all of it. Wait… none of it.
We widened the roads… the thing nobody wanted. BUT.. we only widened a really small portion. Even better? You have to pay to use them. Yes, ALL of our new road widening projects are pay per use. Our state is only building toll roads now. We needed about a 25 mile relief project on the i-70 in the mountains. Instead… we build a 2 mile solution. That, again, you have to pay to use. Even more odd? They didn’t widen the road… they just took down the breakdown safety median to charge people to use it for passing. So, you can no longer safety breakdown in Idaho Springs, but you can pay to unsafely pass folks on the left. Just like NO ONE asked for.
So… that was fun, right? Let’s now make ALL roads toll roads in Colorado. For a while, they built a cool extra lane spill way in North Denver on the i-25 (near the Speer exits) to relieve traffic when necessary. Oh, it’s still there… but it’s a toll lane now
Things brings us to the MUCH needed expansion of C-470. Two lanes each way simply wasn’t nearly enough. Ok, excellent idea, and thank god. You have seen the construction if you have driven on the C-470 for the last year. I had a nasty hunch they were going to pull it again. Did some research, and they did. Those extra help lanes will be toll lanes.
The project will add one express toll lane in both the eastbound and westbound directions from I-25 to Kipling. Additionally, one express toll lane will be added westbound from I-25 to Lucent Boulevard and another one will be added eastbound from Broadway to I-25. This would double the width of the highway in some spots.
But wait… there is more! You don’t even know about this one, yet. But, they are expanding i-25 from Castle Rock to Fountain. Again, this is a good thing. As that stretch drops from 3 lanes to 2 lanes, it becomes a choke point. See, the government is looking at for you. YAY!
State commission OKs $250 million to widen I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock
Wait… no. they aren’t going to charge for that, too, are they? Oh yes they are:
These ‘solutions’ suck for a number of reasons. They don’t cut down on traffic or pollution. In fact, they encourage it. It also discriminates against working class people who can’t afford the privilege of getting to work on time… hence the great and dismissive term ‘Lexus Lanes’. Lastly, this construction sucks, for EVERYONE. Even though everyone won’t get to use them. This is a scary trend that surely sees no end.
Now, unlike Mitch McConnell… I am not here to just insult everyone else’s idea with no solutions. I have an idea. it is expensive, but obviously so are all of these. More light rail. It holds more people, adds no pollution, is immune to traffic, and is immune to weather. If for no other reason, support it to piss off Jon Caldara. He is the right wing nutjob who is MILITANTLY against ALL public transportation. He has also taken great strides to stop as much of it as humanly possible.
In his latest piece for the Post, Caldara compares state transportation investments in transit and biking to cancer.