Letters to the editor
December 18, 2003
During this season of holiday celebrations, law enforcement officials won’t be the only ones on the lookout for drunks. Members of the Vail Valley hospitality industry will also be on the lookout.
The Vail Valley chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association has trained dozens of restaurant employees the techniques of serving adult beverages responsibly. Employee training by the 4,000-member Colorado Restaurant Association in-cludes everything from checking ID cards to recognizing when customers are becoming intoxicated and cutting off service.
The comprehensive training is expected to result in fewer traffic accidents and other problems during Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as restaurant and bar staff are more vigilant about potential problems for their customers.
We serve food and drinks, not drunks. And don’t expect to be served if you are a minor or are becoming intoxicated. Restaurants care about their guests and want to ensure their safety. The Vail Valley chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association urges restaurant patrons to use a designated driver this holiday season. This simple step saves lives, prevents injuries and property damage, preserves driving records, eliminates costly fines and attorney fees, and spares reputations.
Having a completely sober person handle the driving chores is just plain smart. We recommend that you make a designated driver part of your holiday plans. All of us in the Vail Valley hospitality industry and members of the Colorado Restaurant Association wish everyone a very happy New Year, and remind everyone to celebrate in a responsible manner. We wish our customers many happy returns.
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Vail Valley Chapter, Colorado Restaurant Association
I write with a personal interest in the future of I-70, for I drive from Denver to my office in Eagle County (and back) every week, winter and summer.
Following, therefore, are several observations, conclusions and thoughts which I would add to the I-70 “caldron.”
1. I-70 is the lifeline between Denver, DIA and the resort communities, which create significant income and tax base to Colorado. For that to continue means many people must be able to easily reach the resorts so they can enjoy Colorado and, notably, spend their money here. That then means large numbers of people must be able to travel in an efficient, clean and convenient way along I-70.
2. There is little doubt that Americans have a love affair with their SUVs (etc.) and improvements to the highway part of I-70 are certainly needed. Considering the fact that many visitors come in various sorts of camping vehicles, especially in the summer and fall, convenient private vehicular transportation must be an important part of the solution.
3. Highway improvements are always reactive, not pro-active, and the result seldom effectively solves congestion over the long term. The reason that I-25 has a chance of being less congested between the Denver Tech Center and downtown, when (if) construction is finished, is that light rail has been added.
Why? Because light rail is an efficient, effective way of moving a lot of people. And the light rail in Denver has been very successful – far beyond the original projections of the bureaucrats who, if I remember correctly, pooh-poohed the idea.
4. It is clear that highways pollute – not just the air, but water, vegetation, wildlife and noise. Yes there is noise pollution, which anyone living in proximity to an interstate will vouch for. The several cities which are proximate to I-70 deal with all types of pollution every day. At some point, if I-70 continues to host greater and greater numbers of belching vehicles, the cities will become barely habitable, creating an economic and social catastrophe for Colorado. I visit friends who live in proximity to I-70 as it goes through Denver, and the environmental experience at their home is simply terrible.
1. A clean high tech public transportation system simply must be part of the I-70 corridor solution. It particularly solves the need to provide clean, efficient, convenient transportation to large numbers of people who are visiting Colorado resorts and will spend money. It will also solve some of the environmental issues, for it may preclude the need for extensive additional lanes on I-70. The ski train to Winter Park, beginning 50 or 60 years ago, was revolutionary for its convenience and made Winter Park what it is today.
2. Tom Norton (head of CDOT) suggests that a high tech public transportation system along the I-70 corridor is too expensive and “can’t possibly be considered feasible.” Unfortunately, if Colorado is to survive as a tourist destination, that system had better become “feasible.”
A clean, fast ride through the Colorado Rockies from DIA could well become a wonder of the world and would reignite Colorado as a place to go for vacation. And the economics of getting visitors to their destinations efficiently are absolute for the future welfare of Colorado.
3. So how do we pay for a high tech public transportation system? I would submit that when Colorado comes to grips with the fact that such a system is critical for its future, there are many ways of paying for the system, including public-private partnerships, government bonds – considering interest rates are at 50-year lows, foundation grants, federal money, tolls, tickets for the ride, relationships between the state and local governments, and probably a myriad of methods which can be identified once the motivation is there.
The key is for the Colorado government to learn from its citizens that as a basic strategy, a public transportation system needs to be in place. And “no” is not an acceptable answer.
1. One immediate way of solving some of the congestion, especially on weekends, is for Colorado to enact and vigorously enforce a right lane only (and climb lane if added) route for semi trucks on the interstate, as is the case in Europe. That by itself will immediately help the congestion on I-70. And a corollary to that is to enforce the current stature that the left lane is for passing, not dawdling in cruise control at 50 mph.
2. There is, in fact, a much older bore through the Loveland Pass area, which is potentially reclaimable for public transportation. By using it for the high tech system noted here, it might relieve the immediate – and expensive – need for a third bore through the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnel.
3. Finally, I have to say this: in my judgment, as long as Tom Norton is head of CDOT nothing creative is likely to happen to I-70 and its problems. Norton is a bureaucrat, which his recent article in the Denver Post underscored, who simply has no long-term strategic vision for what needs to happen to the I-70 corridor.
Folks, let’s allow our guests (and Colorado citizens who travel) to get to their destinations efficiently in the continuingly pristine Colorado Rockies. Let us therefore strategically plan what our needs will be five to 50 years hence and act upon that strategy. The I-70 Band-Aid, which the CDOT bureaucracy offers, is unacceptable to a reasonable person. Band-Aids are never permanent and when they are replaced, things get expensive.