Runyon effective on I-70 |

Runyon effective on I-70

Over the past six months, things have changed dramatically and favorably for our prospects to solve the Interstate 70 problem, the unending congestion that makes driving to and from Denver so miserable. Peter Runyon, our Eagle County commissioner, has been front and center in orchestrating these changes.

Known to the public is the recent (May 2008) compromise agreement that largely undos the efforts of former Governor Owens to jam highway widening down our throats as the solution to the congestion problems on I-70. A transit system along 1-70 is back on the table. Peter Runyon, as vice-chairman of the I-70 coalition, played an important role in winning this compromise between the Colorado Department of Transportation and a coalition of governments and business interests along I-70.

Unknown to the public has been the behind-the-scene efforts of Runyon. I personally was invited to three, high-level meetings in the past several months in which I briefed the executive director of the state’s transportation department, Russ George, and Governor Bill Ritter’s policy staff on a rapid transit solution. I was asked to do this as I was the COO of Transport Ventures, the international consortium that proposed the high-speed monorail for I-70 that was on the statewide ballot in 2001. These meetings were organized by Peter Runyon.

The good news is that there has been a sea-change in attitude in the state legislature regarding I-70 since the Democrats took over from the Republicans. The difference in attitude between governors Owens and Ritter is like night and day. Transport Ventures found that most Republican legislators were hostile to a transit solution and thought only of highway widening (67 percent of them voted against a transit solution when we were presenting our proposal to the state legislature in 2000). Sen. Hugh Fowler, a good friend who worked hard for our proposal, would anguish over why so many of his fellow Republicans are hostile to the idea of rapid transit.

So where does Republican Dick Gustafson, Peter Runyon’s opponent in the upcoming election, stand on I-70? I have scoured his pronouncements and could find nothing ” he is silent on the issue. Surprising, as this is the issue that may impact Eagle County’s future most.

Peter Runyon has a quiet, professional manner, he listens, and he is able to bring people together. He has been remarkably effective in advancing Eagle County’s interests regarding I-70.

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