I-70 Coalition leader stepping down
Summit County, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY – With the I-70 Coalition in a holding pattern until highway improvement plans are finalized, director Flo Raitano has decided to move on at the end of the year when her contract with the transportation advocacy group ends.
The group has already started the search for someone to replace Raitano.
“I’m not one to sit around and twiddle my thumbs,” Raitano said, explaining her decision. “This is one of the times when I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do.” She added that it was “time for a change on both sides.”
The I-70 coalition consists of towns along the I-70 corridor, as well as communities farther from the highway but still affected by what happens on I-70. Private companies, including the major ski resorts’ transportation companies, are also members.
Raitano took on the position with the coalition at a time when mountain communities along I-70 wanted to make it clear to state officials that their vision of I-70 improvements differed radically from that of the Colorado Department of Transportation, which favored extensive highway widening.
Raitano led the coalition through a time of political transition in Colorado and helped the coalition take on a defining role in the plans for I-70.
“I think I’m leaving the coalition with street credibility. I gave them the access they wanted and made them a force to be reckoned with,” Raitano said
For now, the coalition will focus on managing existing traffic on I-70 with an eye toward reducing congestion by encouraging alternate travel times and car-pooling. Making sure travelers have up-to-date information about highway conditions is another key goal.
Longer-term, Raitano said she thinks the transportation department’s final I-70 plan will look very close to the coalition’s preferred alternative, with a fixed-guideway, high-speed transit system as a focal point. There will also be some significant highway improvements at some of the big choke points, like Floyd Hill, she said.
“It’s not going to be six- or eight-lane widening from Golden to Eagle,” she said.
“It was a fledgling organization when she took over,” said Frisco town manager Michael Penny, who also serves as the coalition’s chairman. He credited Raitano with helping the coalition with developing a powerful statewide network of transportation and community stakeholders. “She put us on the map,” Penny said.
Penny also said the coalition has ratcheted down its budget this year. Some of the member towns that aren’t directly on the corridor have cut back on their share of the funding for the coalition, partly because of the economy, and partly because everyone is waiting for release of the final I-70 plan.