I am concerned about the growth of toll lanes as our solution to everything for crowded highways. Looking back in the last 20 years, everything (outside of T-rex) has been… and will be… a toll road.
For years the CDOT has been working on discussion plans to deal with widening the roads to accommodate our growth. It’s not an easy process. It is expensive, and nobody wants more pavement or more. I fully admit it is a thankless task. I have been writing about this for years. Start here from 2007, then this one shortly after, and this may have been my last entry for years. I won’t tell you what they suggested. I can tell you what none of them ever suggested. “Let’s make the roads bigger and wider. OH, and then use public money for it. THEN… even better, no one can use them but the rich.
It turned out CDOT’s solution for everything is toll lanes. More taxes, more pollution, more congestion, more smog, and endless construction. BUT… just for the few who are willing to pay a lot to use them. Get that there are no easy answers, but in my first 3 pieced linked above, I mentioned there was lots of surveys and public input. I mocked the process, joking we would die of analysis paralysis before anyone agreed. So, they went rogue with out us… and just sold our roads out.
They did the same with the E-470 as the Boulder Turnpike. They initially said the costs were to pay for the construction, and in time it would be free. Best thing… it WORKED. We needed the road, it was subsidized by private money, and paid off when it was completed. In time, it would be free to the general public after they paid it. Totally fair idea. Except, they then announced it will never be paid off. I learned to accept it. It really is a fine road. On top of it, because it is so expensive.. it is always a fast drive.
Next issue was the i-70 around Idaho Springs. I think the biggest issue there was the choke point from 3 to 2 lanes. So, they widened it. This is great, and we can all agree how important that was. EXCEPT… the expansion is a toll road. Sorry to the million of citizens who can’t afford the privilege? I used to travel that stretch a lot, and it hasn’t even helped that much.
This year, we get to see some much needed love for C-470. This may be the most valuable project of all the ones that came before. An expansion to C470 is fully worth the epic hassle of the traffic problems while we work on it. Then… it hit me. I bet these aholes are probably building toll lanes. Sadly, I was correct. According to these numbers, the job will be about 1.3 million. CDot (us taxpayers) will cover half of that. A private company kicks the other half. Yet, it looks like the private company gets to make the project toll roads.
The newest development is the expansion of I25 south between Castle Rock and Monument. Spoiler alert > toll lanes.
I sadly, and sincerely can’t even remember a recent large scale road project that wasn’t just for toll roads. I have much more to say, but the gist is all here.
This is an issue I want to push hard, via lobbying, phone calls, social media… ANYTHING to get this this to the forefront. I don’t think people know the extent of it. These deals look like an offer cooked up by Mr Wonderful from Shark Tank. “I’ll give you the 500K you are asking for, until you pay me about 5 million. Oh, and I wanted 51% of ownership in your company. Lastly, after the original 5 million is returned to me for my risk… I get an additional 50K a year in perpetuity. All this guy is missing is a monacle
I am mostly frustrated because I feel this is all being snuck past us.
Since you can see I am clearly passionate about this emerging story… I would be happy and honored to write more on it. Maybe it’s a column. You also welcome to interview me in person and/or over email.
Lastly… a few big pet peeves. The ‘Lexas lanes’. are elitist and exclusionary. I am an employer, and my folks make around $14 an hour. EVERY SINGLE agent I talked to said they would never use it. It isn’t just too expensive for lower waged folks… they all said they resent the concept of having to pay to use a road.
Plus, none of his eliminates traffic. In fact, each of these solutions encourage more drivers. That is just more pollution for our dreaded ‘blown cloud’ over Denver
Another think that pisses me off is even if I don’t use these lanes (and I won’t, out of principle.) Well, all of us set to spend that years driving and forth in construction every day. I get roads are very expensive, and I would not be surprised to learn that voters routinely vote against any bond measures put forth to fix the roads
I feel like this is being snuck by us, and that is what drives me crazy.
I can also sadly assume John Caldera has been deeply involved in making sure no citizen is ever given access public transportation of any kind.
I expect to have a lot more to say about this. so… let’s just call this entry part 1. March 2018
- I sent this to the paper. They never responded. So, I offer to you, instead.