Best chance for Eagle County airport interchange?
EAGLE, Colorado – Peter Runyon has long lobbied for an Interstate 70 interchange to link the highway to the Eagle County Regional Airport. He may have taken a giant step last week.
Runyon came home happy from a meeting in Denver last week, because the interchange plan landed on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s short list of projects it will bring to federal officials for a new kind of grant.
Called “TIGER,” for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, the grants will be awarded outside the usual ways state and federal funding is distributed. Runyon is cautiously optimistic that the interchange could make the cut, particularly because of its “shovel ready” status.
“If we got the money, we could go to bid with it tomorrow,” Runyon said.
But Runyon’s optimism is tempered by the fact that Colorado’s congressional delegation is relatively new to Washington D.C. these days and doesn’t have the kind of clout held by states with long-serving representatives and senators.
To help, Runyon said he’s going to encourage anyone he can to talk to second-home owners about contacting their home-state representatives for help.
“That’s something we’d be willing to do,” Vail Valley Jet Center President Paul Gordon said.
Gordon’s clients – people who fly into the Vail Valley on private jets – are exactly the kind of people Runyon wants to ask for help.
And, Gordon said, an airport interchange would be good for both his clients and people who live in and around Eagle and Gypsum.
“It would be a real win-win for everybody,” Gordon said. “It would expedite travel to and from the airport, it would promote development around the airport and it would improve traffic flow in Eagle and Gypsum,” he said.
But Brad Ghent, who runs the Dollar Car Rental agency at the airport as well as a detailing and maintenance businesses that cleans and services all the rental cars at the airport, said there could be a downside to the interchange.
“There are a lot of businesses (in Eagle and Gypsum) that travelers will just pass by with an interchange,” Ghent said.
Still, Ghent said, and interchange could shave a few minutes off of travel times for people using the airport, and could help with traffic congestion in the towns.
Runyon, who has lobbied for the interchange since his first days in office, said interchange is a project that deserves to be built.
“This is a quality of life issue,” he said. “And I think we could make it happen if we work it hard enough.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application for a new interchange for the Eagle County Regional Airport has to be submitted to federal officials by Sept. 15.