Driving to Vail won’t cost extra | VailDaily.com

Driving to Vail won’t cost extra

Bob Berwyn
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” A state senator’s proposal to charge fees for driving on I-70 busy weekends has been withdrawn, but communities and resorts along Interstate 70 say they are looking for other ways to reduce congestion in time for the 2008-2009 ski season.

Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, floated the idea in late January, saying a $5 to $12 fee could reduce traffic by as much as 10 percent, but there wasn’t a huge amount of support for the idea.

A group of mountain towns working on reducing congestion on the freeway said Romer’s proposal showed the Front Range is concerned about traffic in the mouintains.

“That’s where the demand is coming from. That’s where behavior needs to be changed,” said Flo Raitano, director of the I-70 Coaltion.

The coalition is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Denver Regional Council of Governments to begin encouraging skiers and snowboarders headed to the mountains to carpool.

A reduction of 500 cars per hour during the busiest travel timese could give drivers the feeling that there is less congestion, said Peter Kozinski, a state transportation engineer.

Mountain resorts are at work, too, with ideas like better parking and ski storage for carpoolers, Raitano said.

The state, meanwhile, is looking at ways to get better information about travel conditions to skiers and snowboarders.

That could include automatic text message updates or digital message boards at the base of the ski area, Kozinski said.

Vail Resorts would like to offer the traffic text message service to season pass holders, said Beth Ganz, the company’s public affairs director.

Promoting park-and-ride lots and getting skiers to use the carpool.org web site is also important. But she said the vast majority of cars traveling during peak times are already carrying three to four people.

“The critical step is trying to figure out what it would take to run a well-executed and appealing mass transit system within the I-70 infrastructure,” Ganz said. “We need to get people out of their cars.”

Efforts to address I-70 congestion with traffic management tie in neatly with the conclusions of Gov. Ritter’s Blue Ribbon Transportation Panel’s final report, released Jan. 30.

The panel found that, “(S)imply adding more lanes to existing roads will not get Colorado where it needs to be ‹ the population is growing too fast for the system to keep pace with the increased demand. There should be an emphasis on management of demand, as well as building to keep pace with that demand.”

– Governor’s final transportation report: http://www.colorado.gov/governor

– I-70 Coalition: http://www.i70solutions.org

– Info on carpooling: http://www.carpool.com

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