April Fool’s: Chinese to bury I-70 through Vail
Daily Staff Rider
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – Vail residents will see a dream come true this summer – Interstate 70 will be buried from the West Vail interchange to just east of the Vail golf course. Of course, there’s a catch.
The Chinese government has decided it wants payment on some of the trillions of dollars it holds in American debt, and will get it via the third-oldest profession – real estate development.
“We’re going to bury the highway, then build 7,500 luxury condominiums atop it,” Chinese construction/debt collection envoy Mao Mu Shu said. “We conservatively estimate a $10 billion return on investment.”
While $10 billion is a small fraction of Chinese-held American debt, Mao said this and similar construction projects – all interstate burials through cities and resort areas – are intended to prove a point.
“We’re serious about getting our money back,” Mao said.
Since the interstate project involves federal land, highway officials in Washington, D.C. say local communities won’t have much, if any influence, over what’s built.
“Sorry, but they’ve put up the money and manpower, and we do owe them a helluva lot of money,” said Dan Goteborg of the Federal Highway Administration. “Our hands are pretty much tied.”
That worries Vail leaders.
“We’ve spent more than 30 years trying not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg,” Vail Mayor Dick Toledo said. “It’ll be great to have the interstate buried, but 7,500 units? Can we really sell that much real estate?”
Mao said there’s a built-in market for the condos – China’s burgeoning upper class.
“Our economy creates about 1,500 new millionaires every half-hour,” he said. “These are people who are eager to spend money on cars, real estate and other consumer goods. They’ll leap at the chance to buy a vacation hideaway built with them in mind.”
Vail Resorts President Rob Lynx said he looks forward to tapping a new vacation market.
“If this works, we can stop selling cheapo season passes and really market Vail to true destination visitors,” Lynx said.
Still, Toledo’s worried.
“We’ve got a big mountain, but this is going to have a big impact,” Toledo said. “Besides, we’ve been told 50,000 people will build this project. Where are they going to sleep? The forest?”
Mao said temporary worker camps will be built between Leadville and Camp Hale, then dismantled when the project is finished.
“I know town leaders are worried, but this will be a good thing over the years,” Mao said. “A hundred years from now you’ll forget we were ever here – except for the grandchildren of the condo buyers, of course.”