Letter: Toll makes Eagle Co. more expensive | VailDaily.com

Letter: Toll makes Eagle Co. more expensive

Marty Lich
Vail CO, Colorado

Let’s talk about the proposed tax, the “old I-70 new toll” proposal. This new $5 toll will be charged to all drivers except for the residents in Summit, Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties who will be exempted because “I-70 runs through there.”

We of Eagle County, which I-70 also runs through, will not be exempted from paying this proposed tax each time we travel to or from Denver between Floyd Hill and the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel on peak hours and days. Toll roads are also called a “usage tax” and this new tax proposal has been brought to us courtesy of our Colorado Senate Transportation Committee.

Understand that this increased transportation tax will add to Eagle County’s higher food, gas and other commodities prices. These are items that cost all Eagle County residents more due to the higher transportation charges we pay today. In fact, this additional delivery fee could mean the end for more small business owners here who cannot afford even higher transportation fees coupled with a slowing economy.

Further, researching major U.S. toll roads also shows that a computer electronic toll collection system can, with an electronic “glitch,” result in traffic delays several miles long. We have enough I-70 “several mile long delays” now due to winter weather-related incidents such as blizzards, avalanche danger, rockslides and accidents without adding toll booth delays. When hazardous road conditions force an I-70 shutdown, it doesn’t matter if it is two lanes or six lanes, the result is the same. No traffic flow.

Our mountain newspaper headlines tend to read like this one; “Snow snarls I-70 traffic.” Not “Vehicle traffic snarls I-70” but Mother Nature snarls I-70 traffic! Increased taxes and added lanes do not “correct” Mother Nature. But I can envision what more idling cars with their emissions will do to our already impacted natural environment.

For any questions regarding this latest tax proposal, contact the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Andrew McElhany, 303-866-2318. In addition, these are the voting members of our Senate Transportation committee: Senators Takis, Williams, Gibbs, Hagedorn, Mitchell, Renfroe, and Spence, who have passed this new proposal. Again, this toll revenue will not fund current I-70 upgrades or repairs. This new fee will be collected for the express purpose of securing a new Colorado Transportation Bond to finance more I-70 lanes and bore a third tunnel in the future.

To close, I have no problem choosing to pay a toll as an alternative faster route but I do have a problem with paying an added tax for an existing “free” interstate that is paid for and has been in use as such since 1973.

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