Watered-down I-70 toll endorsed | VailDaily.com

Watered-down I-70 toll endorsed

DENVER, Colorado ” A proposal to charge a toll on Interstate 70 has been weakened but is still alive at the state Capitol.

Senate Bill 213 originally required the state to ask federal officials for permission to charge a toll on the federally funded highway.

The sponsor, Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, changed the bill so that it encourages state officials to ask for permission but doesn’t require them to do so.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the change Friday and sent the bill to the full Senate.

The bill would allow a toll of up to $5 each way from the outskirts of Denver to the Eisenhower Tunnel, roughly 35 miles.

The money would be used to expand the congested four-lane highway.

McElhany said he wanted to give the state the authority to charge a toll but not require it.

Some parts of the original bill required the state take actions to set up a toll, but others simply gave it permission to toll. He said the change made the bill consistent.

Residents in mountain communities along I-70 opposed the bill, partly because a coalition organized by the state transportation department is studying what to about the congestion.

Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, said he supported the amended bill because it still gives that group a chance to recommend what do about I-70.

Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, said he opposes charging a toll on a highway that taxpayers have already paid for.

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