Vail Daily letter: Interstate mess
Vail, CO Colorado
For every rain that falls … there surely must be some flowers to follow.
This morning, my wife and I made the round trip between Edwards and Vail. What was most obvious and certainly an effect on the norm was that in the entire trip we observed only two 18-wheeler semis on Interstate 70 traveling in either direction. Both, I believe, were making local deliveries or pickups. How pleasant it was.
On the other hand, jokes aside, it brought home some grim realizations. The most important and obvious of which is the timing: Had this occurred at almost any other hour, an unimaginable number of deaths may have occurred. Gratefully, we now must deal only with the logistics.
With the unfortunate disaster in Glenwood Canyon, Glenwood Springs is now totally unreachable from the Eastern Slope without adding hours to a normally easy and picturesque interstate trip. This has resulted in what is definitely not a simple detour or minor inconvenience. The financial repercussions felt in Glenwood, Aspen and points west might be devastating.
The skiing industry is certain to feel the pain from Vail to Aspen. Employment of individuals dependent upon travel through the canyon has been dealt a severe blow. Steamboat Springs can look forward to a surge of new reservation requests for the remainder of the season (one man’s poison, etc.).
Of the main severities regarding the commercial shortcomings of this tragedy, transportation is obviously the largest – including a major disruption of travel between Denver and all points west and south of Salt Lake City. Travel along the east-west corridor from Denver relies upon access through I-70 in the south and U.S. Highway 40 in the north. With this disaster, tens of thousands of vehicles, commercial and private, making this trip by road must add a full half-day at least on I-70 or they must avoid the Denver corridor altogether, resulting in a loss of millions in revenues for businesses, hotels and resorts.
Repairing the highway will be the easy part.
The only option for westbound travelers is to continue on I-70 west to Wolcott, hang a right on a winding, not-too-great, two-lane road (U.S. Highway 131) to junction with Highway 40 (not an interstate) and continue west. This is not an acceptable option for east-to-west travel unless your goal is to reach Provo or Salt Lake City. Return, then, to I-70 from Craig on Route 13 to Rifle.
As a note, the normal time period from Glenwood Springs to Rifle on I-70 is about a half-hour. On the detour, with traffic expected, the approximate 210 mile return trip is four to five hours, weather permitting.
For eastbound Westerners, reverse the procedure.
Where have all the flowers gone? Welcome to colorful Colorado. Have a nice day.
Alan M. Aarons Edwards