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Ferry: I-70 discussion picking up speed

Kaye Ferry
Vail CO, Colorado

Man, oh man. Has it been a busy week! Transportation for eight hours Thursday, followed by a pine beetle presentation and topped off with oil and gas. And while I’ll fill you in on all of them at some point, I’m going to follow up last week’s I-70 column with more, some the same, some different.

Last week, I outlined the Collaborative Effort’s recommendation to the governor. It included a three-prong approach that is to be implemented before the addition of more lanes is considered.

To begin with, non-infrastructure improvements must be made. And that’s the really easy part including enforcement of current speed laws, more use of technology and signs, and better control of truck movements.

Part two requires study and implementation of an Advance Guideway System, which includes a wide variety of high-speed transportation.

And the third component deals with highway improvements ” and there are a lot. Most notable in our area are Dowd Canyon, Eisenhower Tunnel and Vail Pass, and includes such things as road straightening and addition of auxiliary lanes.

So what was different about Thursday’s discussion? Well, to begin with, the group addressed very specific issues within the context of previous discussions. Issues like, if given the possibility of rapid transit throughout the corridor, where should stations be located? And what is the best way to address current physical configurations of the various communities involved, and how should future development be planned in light of things like stations and their attendant needs?

Since I wrote my last column I have been repeatedly asked if this whole concept of changing the I-70 corridor is possible. And my answer is absolutely. And it may not necessarily be because we want to, it comes down to the fact that we have to. But I believe we have more people who want to change it given the current circumstances, because I also believe that for first time we are in what is typically referred to as a “perfect storm,” a phrase that, according to http://www.wikipedia.com, refers to the simultaneous occurrence of events which, taken individually, would be far less powerful than the result of their chance combination. Such occurrences are rare by their very nature, so that even a slight change in any one event would lessen its overall impact.

Just what defines this rare event in our case? Let’s start with the past winter. While by all accounts we had more snow than usual, odds are that it will happen again.

So part one deals the economic impact when the highway closes, which was more than 40 times last winter. And even though our legislators have been slow to react, they should take the situation very seriously if for no other reason than it is estimated that lost revenues for every hour of highway closure is $800,000. I would think that would get their attention if nothing else did.

Then there’s safety; the cost in lives, medical care and emergency services reached all-time highs last winter.

And part three has to do with gas prices. With the unprecedented cost of gas and little reason to think it will be drastically reduced, even taking a van from the airport will cost significantly more.

But on the positive side, the advances in technology give us options that we have never had before. So my answer, once again, is yes. Not only can these changes take place, these changes must take place. Even the governor has called it a crisis. So it’s time to make the “how-to” list. How to make these changes happen, for our sanity, for our safety. For our future.

And as a footnote, I was happy to see that FINALLY Eagle County was represented by a fairly full contingent. County Commissioner Peter Runyon, Vail Mayor Dick Cleveland, Avon Town Manager Larry Brooks (Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler was there for a few minutes) and a variety of staff all participated. Even the Vail Daily editor appeared.

Now, it’s time to talk about the past Avon election, which I haven’t had time to comment on. Good for the citizens retaining their power. It’s time we consider similar measures in Vail. Because one thing is perfectly clear, once “they” get elected, “they” do whatever they want. Screw the notion of representing their constituents. It’s the “my way or the highway” mentality. Unfortunately, there are seven “highways” running through Vail. We too should have a say in the sale of our land. Notice I say our land and not town land.

And finally, I was sent a great bumper sticker in the mail the other day. “Save the lynx – Relocate bobkatz.” I have a supply if you’d like one. Does anybody know what’s the opposite of a fan club? I think I see one forming.

Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com.

Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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