Our View: Third time should be the charm for proposed I-70 traction bill
Vail Daily Editorial Board
We all know what a mess Interstate 70 can be during big snowstorms. Many times, motorists can make an already-messy situation worse because they aren’t equipped for winter driving.
Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat who represents Eagle and Routt counties in the Colorado House of Representatives, last week introduced what he’s calling the “Winter Conditions and Traction Control Requirements” act. That bill essentially makes passenger vehicles abide by the same rules that heavy trucks must obey.
In short, between Sept. 1 and May 31, passenger vehicles in the I-70 mountain corridor must be equipped with adequate tires — with at least three-sixteenths of an inch of tread — or carry snow chains or traction devices such as AutoSocks.
Roberts’ bill has bipartisan support, as well as support from local governments and police agencies.
The bill is a good, if not an original, idea.
Former Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, the Democrat who represented Eagle and Routt counties before Roberts, twice introduced similar legislation. Both bills had bipartisan support, as well as support from local governments and industry groups. All were killed in the Colorado Senate, thanks largely to the efforts of former Senator Randy Baumgardner, a Republican from Grand County. At the time of the Mitsch Bush bills, Baumgardner was chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, since Republicans held a slim majority in that body at the time. Baumgardner argued that the Mitsch Bush bill merely duplicated existing laws.
Those laws, though, are a bit of a hodgepodge and make it hard for motorists to know if traction rules are being enforced at any given time. The Roberts bill, as the Mitsch Bush bills before it, creates a blanket rule. A motorist will only get a ticket — an expensive one — if he or she causes a highway closure.
The Roberts bill stands a good chance of passage. Baumgardner has resigned his Senate seat, and Republicans are now the minority party.
One-party dominance of any state’s government often leads to over-reach on any number of issues. In this case, though, more support for a needed bill is a good thing and might help ease travel on our valley’s highway lifeline.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart, Ad Director Holli Snyder, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.
Snowplowing efforts are a prime example of how sometimes the very people who need a service hinder its delivery.