So long, Switzerland |

So long, Switzerland

Colorado used to be the Switzerland of America, with its tall peaks, clear lakes, well-maintained highways and modern infrastructure.

Nowadays, of course, Colorado’s mountain highways are looking positively Third World in places, with the approach to the tunnel from the west resembling a goat path. Inside the tunnel itself, the once-white tile walls ” which used to be assiduously cleaned annually ” are a dingy gray-brown. Road joints in I-70 over the many bridges and overpasses between Vail and the top of the pass are in terrible disrepair. The resulting jolts that just about knock the fillings out of your teeth also shake one’s very faith in the state and federal governments, which ostensibly collect our taxes to fix these very things on a timely basis.

Some work is finally being done in our own local trouble spot, Dowd Junction, and it appears the Colorado Department of Transportation is gearing up to finally repave the tortuous stretch of I-70 between Frisco and the tunnel (although the truck-chain ruts are rather handy if you need to use autopilot to chat on the phone or slam a Whopper). But it still begs the question of why these fixes take so long to implement?

Excuses abound, ranging from decreasing gas-tax revenue to TABOR-inspired tax restrictions to the colossal projects of metro Denver sucking up every available penny. Meanwhile, High Country leaders spend an inordinate amount of time fretting about how to fix I-70 in the long-term while letting state leaders off the hook on desperately needed short-term repairs.

I-70 is the lifeline for our community, the conduit that delivers the tourists and goods that keep our economy humming. Our local leaders ” from the county commissioners and town council to the ski area honchos and chamber chiefs ” need to raise a collective voice toward Denver and demand greater return on the tax revenue our economy generates.

Fix the roads, dang it, and fix them regularly. We can talk about the pie-in-the-sky monorail later.

” Alex Miller for the Editorial Board

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