Editorial: Charge I-70 drivers for coming to Vail?
Vail CO, Colorado
The idea of charging a toll for skiers using I-70 is an intriguing notion, but it needs a lot more thought. Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, last week suggested nicking those unfortunate enough to drive I-70 into the mountains on weekends $5 to $12 per trip – as if it isn’t painful enough to sit in that traffic.
In reality, doing something to “reallocate” traffic on the Interstate isn’t a bad idea, but a toll can be only part of the solution and it shouldn’t be come a permanent one.
Romer is on the right track when he suggests rebates or incentives for those who stay off the highway at peak hours. After all, this isn’t just a problem owned by the ski resorts, the mountain communities or even the state of Colorado. Unless you fly in to one of the regional airports, I-70 skier traffic is an issue for anyone who skis in Colorado (and doesn’t live at the base of the mountain). That means the solution needs to come from a variety of players across the region.
We believe too much focus has been placed on the huge-dollar solutions of expanding I-70 or building rail. While those may be viable some day, the near-term reality is that a lot of smaller solutions can cut into the traffic. Such as:
– Collaborative offers between the Colorado Dept. of Transportation and the resorts, hoteliers and restaurateurs to create discounted meals and hotel rooms on Sunday nights;
– Lift-ticket deals for those who only ski in the morning and leave by 1 or 2 p.m.;
– Organized bus service from the Front Range to the High Country that includes connecting service from transit centers to the lifts;
– High-tech toll-collection passes that automatically determine sliding-scale fees for going through the tunnel depending on time of day.
The plan also needs to include breaks for mountain-town residents who, for whatever reason, are traveling at peak times. And it needs to address the possibility of cheapskates clogging Loveland Pass to beat the toll.
We don’t necessarily agree with Romer’s initial plan to ding folks $12 to suffer I-70 on Sundays, but he’s on the right track in terms of looking at alternative solutions that don’t cost billions.
” Alex Miller for the Editorial Board