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$5 billion worth of exposure

Matt Zalaznick
Vail, Colorado CO

Bury I-70 already: Vail needs to make some headlines.

I can see it now. It will be one of those reports at the end of the nightly network news broadcast titled: “Gouging the Homeland.”

I can even hear Brian Williams’ well-practiced incredulity when he announces one of Colorado’s congresspersons has slipped “$5 billion ” $5 billion! ” into a transportation bill to bury three miles of freeway in one of the wealthier towns in the nation.”



Five billion! Three miles! Wealthier towns in the nation!

Your tax money at work!



And why do these privileged ski barons and baronesses want to bury the interstate? Not to build schools or hospitals or a soup kitchen on the new strip of open space, not to save elk or bears or sasquatches from being flattened by big rigs, not even to prevent terrorists from driving tankers full of poison gas through town, but because, Williams sneers, “they think it’s too noisy.”

“Apparently,” Williams will say with that moral indignation modern TV anchors have mastered, “the residents of Vail think the needy in our country couldn’t use that $5 billion for shelter, health care, education or food.

“They’re worried about their property values .”



Then, he’ll interview someone from the business chamber, who’ll say the real concern is making sure our hotel guests have a world-class experience ” they come to Vail to listen to the wind in the pines, the tinkling of mountain streams, not the roar of the nation’s supply chain spluttering diesel and grinding its brakes.

Next will be a resident ” well-dressed, in great shape, the sun blasting him in the face ” who’ll say the freeway makes it unpleasant to open the windows in certain freeway-facing rooms during the few days of summer when it’s actually hot.

Then, a list of all the things $5 billion could pay for ” research into alternative energy, AIDS prevention, cleaning up pollution, music programs in inner-city schools, armor for the troops in whatever Middle Eastern war were fighting, millions that will be embezzled by the “freely elected” officials of whatever new “democratic” government we’re establishing in Tehran or Damascus ” will scroll down the screen.

Alaska Sen. Don Young was pilloried when, trying to build a $223 million bridge from one tiny island to an even tinier island, he asked for a fraction of what Vail would seek to sink the freeway.

Can you imagine the attack on the poor member of Colorado’s congressional delegation who is somehow convinced into trying to slip the tunnel into a spending bill? Sounds like a career-ender that even Mel Gibson or PeeWee Herman couldn’t survive.

I agree with one aspect of Brian’s outrage: Can the people pushing the tunnel say with a good conscience that burying our stretch of interstate would be the best way to spend $5 billion ” and likely more ” in taxpayer dollars?

Whatever today’s construction estimate is, it’s sure to be double or triple by the time this proposal lands in any House committee.

Sure, I-70’s annoying ” I used to live in West Vail close enough to the freeway to slide my rock skis into Dowd Junction.

But Vail survives on its visitors, at least of portion of whom are drawn here by the ease of access, especially compared to resorts like Telluride and Jackson Hole.

But do we really want to welcome them with a dark, dreary tunnel that leads them to a dark, dreary parking garage?

I thought this was the beautiful Rocky Mountains, not Manhattan.

And if our arriving guests are crammed into a tunnel, how will they see ” or learn any lessons about sustainable energy from ” the windmills on the golf course?

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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