The I-70 Web site cure |

The I-70 Web site cure

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO Colorado

State Sen. Chris Romer of Denver has gone on-line to seek ideas to relieve weekend congestion on Interstate 70. It’s nice that he’s asking the public, in a forum removed from transportation jargon.

But whatever Romer gleans from the on-line community, he, and they, need to understand some very basic issues.

– A quick peek at Romer’s discussion page shows a lot of support for rail. That’s interesting, since the last time state voters were asked for a relatively modest $50 million for a “demonstration” project in Summit County, the plan was overwhelmingly rejected in all but three of the state’s counties: Eagle, Summit and Clear Creek.

Until Front Range voters put their votes, and their money, where their wishes are, the very idea of a monorail is a non-starter.

– There seems to be a good deal of support for some sort of mass transit that could use existing lanes. That’s probably the best short-term idea, if a few key questions could be answered.

First, is there really, and we mean really, enough demand for, say, a $20 million system? Like rail, people say they want transit, but the vast majority of us continue to take cars where we need to go. Throw a couple of kids and half-a-ton of ski gear into that equation and it’s not difficult to see why.

Second, what happens to that fleet of buses in the summer? Buses are considerably more flexible than trains, which could only make a few, fixed, stops. But are people really going to take a bus to Green Mountain Reservoir or Sylvan Lake in the summer?

Finally, and crucially, what are the chances resort companies will take a major stake in any kind of transit project?

None of this is meant to pooh-pooh Romer’s efforts to relieve weekend congestion on I-70. It’s just a reminder that there are no easy answers. While it would be nice to think that some Web poster will have the idea to end all ideas on the subject, the reality is that I-70s troubles have been pretty thoroughly examined.

Finding the right balance between cost, what people will actually do, and what political will exists to create solutions is going to be tricky, no matter who leads the charge.

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