AVON " State Rep. Christine Scanlan touted ongoing plans for Interstate 70 on Tuesday while taking a few shots at her opponent's proposal to build a monorail.
"I think this is a multidimensional issue that has a lot of complexity," Scanlan said. "We can say, 'Let's go build a monorail.' We'll put it out to a vote, and it'll fail. We don't have the right case to make right now to the state of Colorado."
Scanlan is running against Ali Hasan, a Beaver Creek Republican who wants a statewide ballot to approve a $5 billion monorail along I-70 using private funds, federal grants and ski-pass revenue " and perhaps a tax increase.
The Dillon Democrat Scanlan was part of a committee that advocated widening the interstate in certain places to relieve traffic as well as looking at mass transit such as rail. She advocates lane-widening in some places, but said it's about more than just pavement.
"It's got to be some lane-widening, because the truck traffic will cripple the highway if we don't do some of that," she said. "It's also visionary, looking at the mass transit opportunities. Given the projected future for Colorado, we have to have that on the table."
Larry Brooks, town manager of Avon and a member of the board of directors of the I-70 Coalition, said leaders should understand the broad implications of improvements to I-70. For instance, last year's bills to create tolls " which Scanlan and other mountain lawmakers opposed " didn't consider where to actually put the toll booths, he said.
"You can't just widen paradise to create these toll booths," he said.
Brooks commended Scanlan for inviting him to the Capitol to discuss I-70 issues.
"Our legislators need to understand the depth of the problem, not the width of it," Brooks said. "You can't say, 'We need to go get this. We need a monorail. Let's go get it now.' There's a lot more implications."
Flo Raitano, executive director of the I-70 Coalition, also said it's too early to try to bring a ballot question on a monorail.
"He'll be met with, 'What, are you nuts?'" she said.
Raitano said the coalition is working with communities to ask what they want to see on I-70.
"In our discussions with the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority guys, we're constantly reminding them of what the communities' expressed needs are and anything they do better meet those needs."
The Rocky Mountain Rail Authority is now studying the feasibility of high-speed passenger rail along I-70 and I-25.
Hasan has said he want to move forward with putting a monorail proposal on a ballot.
"Enough study," he said at a debate last week. "It's time to build."
Scanlan discussed I-70 issues at a community meeting Tuesday in Avon.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.