Vail Daily letter: Feedback on I-70 plan
Edwards, CO Colorado
Letter sent to the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding Interstate 70 mountain-corridor feedback and the “Revised Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement”:
We are Greg and Margaret Thomas, who live in both Denver and Edwards and have thousands of commutes on I-70 between these two cities. We have hundreds of nightmarish stories of traveling the I-70 mountain corridor. I have read the “Revised Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” from the Colorado Department of Transportation and have the following feedback.
Growth is inevitable. Although it is difficult to imagine the impact of expansion on aesthetics, community and ecosystems, we must plan for the future. I am in agreement that a long-term, enduring plan is critical.
I agree with the non-infrastructure components. Many solutions can be implemented immediately at little incremental cost. For example, enforcement of laws already in place is critical and can start immediately. Checkpoints for trucks at chain-up locations when the chain law is in effect are critical. Earlier start/later stop of chain laws as weather degrades is important as well as timely communication of conditions. Increased van- and bus-pooling options, especially for skiers, create opportunity for private transportation businesses. Communication and consumer awareness about options through social media and text alerts are critical. Package deals and discounts from ski resorts and hotels for van/bus poolers might increase ridership and create opportunity for local business.
Regarding the Advanced Guideway System: agree this is a good option in the long term. However, this plan must be incorporated with micro-transportation plans. Unlike travel in urban areas or between urban destinations, much of our mountain travel requires transportation of groups of people and “stuff”: ski, camping, hunting, kayaking and biking gear. If you look inside vehicles during your next I-70 traffic jam, you will not find cars with one passenger each carrying one laptop but rather SUVs filled with friends and family and all of their gear. How will these travelers be able to transport “stuff” from their homes to the AGS and then from the AGS to their destination?
The detailed plan must include solutions for the end-to-end experience of transporting groups of people and their gear. This creates opportunity for private valet services and group/family travel packages throughout the corridor. I think of what the ski industry has done with season passes. The same needs to be done with end-to-end transportation and lodging.
Continued awareness and planning for ongoing highway improvements are critical, even with the AGS and non-infrastructure components.
I would like to hear how this plan integrates with future regional air transportation and expansion of the Eagle County airport. For instance, in many parts of Europe, where there are advanced rail systems, there are also reasonably priced options for air travel between regional airports. Imagine a short flight from the Centennial airport to the Eagle airport, packaged with lodging and valet transportation service.