Fix I-70? Not so fast |

Fix I-70? Not so fast

Allen Best
Preston Utley/Vail DailyTraffic jams usually occur on Vail Pass only during busy tourist weekends and after accidents. But Vail will only be one of many towns and agencies who pick a plan meant to keep traffic from getting worse.

The process of re-desiging I-70 has a ways to go. Denver has not weighed in on the discussion, although the city is paying attention. Also, the coalition of mountain towns reviewing the state’s plans has not talked about airports or beefing up alternative routes to take the load off I-70.

Finally, despite the consensus, any highway widening could be challenged legally. The Sierra Club, the national environmental group, has turned sharply more critical of any highway widening plans even as the club has gathered mounting studies pointing to impacts of air pollution to people who live along heavily traveled highways. Particularly vulnerable are children, because their lungs are still developing. Bert Melcher, the club’s chief representative, argues the state has failed to address air quality, particularly in Clear Creek County.The first efforts to imagine a new and bigger I-70 began in 1988, but little other than three-lane widening from Silverthorne to the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel complex was accomplished.

The effort was renewed in 1997, but this time opening the door to non-highway solutions. A public process that year yielded acclaim for a monorail but no state money was appropriated to pursue that vision. The more formal $20 million process now under way began in 1999.

Vail, Colorado

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