The I-70 Do-Nothing plan
Vail CO, Colorado
In California, they suggest wild ideas for the absurdly congested 101, also known as the Hollywood/Ventura Freeway. One of them includes a double-decker model that would presumably double the amount of traffic that could flow – and which would, presumably, also be bumper-to-bumper on both levels as soon as it’s completed. The reality, everyone knows, is that there will never be money to do such a thing and there’s simply no room to expand the roadway. And even if they did … you get the picture.
A similarly fruitless discussion is occurring in Colorado. Recently, we were shocked ” shocked! ” to discover from yet another study that congestion on the mountain section of I-70 costs us mountain dwellers a lot of money in lost business, productivity, etc. We also hear that sitting in traffic on either side of the Eisenhower Tunnel makes people so grumpy that they vow to take up squash, bocce ball, Parcheesi ” anything but skiing and sitting in those awful traffic jams.
All the solutions stink. They’re either too expensive, cause too much disruption or suggest mass transit that, let’s be honest, stands little chance of being embraced by people towing skis, boots, luggage, kids, etc.
Not to be too cynical, but the Do-Nothing plan may be the most practical solution out there. Rapidly expanding population and an already maxed-out interstate means that even expanding the thing will have limited effect. But when we say “Do-Nothing,” we don’t mean it literally. Other than pie-in-the-sky high-speed rail or changes to the road itself, there’s plenty that can be done to spread traffic out on the existing corridor.
That includes getting the resorts and business community involved in creating incentives to stay over Sunday nights (or at least stay for dinner); more bus and carpool encouragement; and, yes, a toll at the tunnel for peak periods.
For a lot less than a mag-lev train or more lanes, we could create a sophisticated, cooperative transportation plan that makes do with what we have.
Ultimately, this Do-Nothing solution is the only way to fly.
” Alex Miller for the Editorial Board