Vail Daily letter: I-70 solutions
July 29, 2014
I have read with great interest the various articles concerning traffic on I-70 . As someone who drives I-70 every day, and whose business depends on I-70, I feel I have a pretty educated opinion on the matter. I also feel there are simpler and less expensive ways to help the traffic move.
First, and foremost, we need to create truck-free times for I-70 traffic — three hours on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning westbound and three hours Sunday afternoon eastbound. By doing this, we can have both lanes of I-70 running at the same speed. It doesn't do the truckers any good to sit in traffic burning fuel anyway. In Europe, trucks are banned from all roads into the resort areas all weekend.
Secondly, during winter months, when the chain laws go into effect, it should also apply to passenger cars. If the roads are bad enough to require truckers to use chains, passenger car travel should be restricted to snow tires or four-wheel drive only. Also, rental car agencies should be required to offer snow tires, and alert customers to the dangers of going to the mountains without four-wheel drive. This will deter people from flying into Denver and renting a Toyota Corolla in January. Last winter, CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol pointed the finger directly at Front Range vehicles with bad tires as a major cause of the delays in bad weather.
There is simply not enough money to make I-70 wider, or add a monorail. The money being spent now on the Twin Tunnel project is a waste. During last winter when the third lane eastbound was open, travel times were virtually the same. And remember, next year the third lane that we paid for with tax dollars becomes a toll lane. The money would be better spent on Highway 285 from Morrison to Fairplay. Make that a better and wider road, and give Front Rangers another route to the mountains.
The economic impact is growing every day, up and down the I-70 corridor. At the beginning of the summer season the I-70 overhead signs advised travelers of heavy traffic eastbound from 1 to 6 p.m. A few weeks later it was 12 noon, and now CDOT is warning of heavy traffic beginning at 11 a.m.!
If we had a truck-free travel window of 3 to 6 or 7 p.m. on Sundays, we can keep those guests around all day and help ensure they get a full Vail experience. It will not be easy, and it will take all the mountain communities getting together and making a strong push. We can solve this problem without spending any more money.