Vail Daily column: Add third lane for I-70 |

Vail Daily column: Add third lane for I-70

Michael Cacioppo
Valley Voices
Michael Cacioppo

The “First season shows express lane benefits” headline, in the Monday Vail Daily issue, was a story quoting our Democratic state senator positively responding to supposed toll lane benefits. The story, sadly missing a balance of reality, was all roses.

As a candidate for House District 26 in Colorado, I conducted a survey of some 33 people in Eagle and Routt counties, who use Interstate 70 to get to Denver. Thirty-two people had negative opinions of the new 13-mile toll lane, in what I call “the parking lot known as Interstate 70.” Comments included, “It’s a joke,” to, “I drove it twice last week and it just keeps getting worse and worse.”

My opponent for House District 26 is on the road committee in the state House. She does not live in Eagle County. In fact, we haven’t had a state representative from Eagle County in 30 years. Her vision of how to better our lifeline to Denver, and our resort guests only access to our ski areas, is apparently different from mine.

We must bring Interstate 70 up to safe standards, by adding a third lane from Floyd Hill outside of Denver, all the way to the Eagle County airport, in order for our ambulances to get to Denver hospitals, and for law enforcement to be able to avoid the “stop and stop” parking lot factor. Resort guests don’t want to sit in rental cars, in the dead of winter, and have to run engines in order to stay warm, while waiting for the traffic to clear. The waste of gasoline is excessive and not environmentally sound. A third lane should have been built 20 years ago. Over the years, I have attended meetings about building a monorail or light rail transportation system. Those meetings appear to be going nowhere.

Fairness factor

Interstate 25 has three lanes from Denver to Colorado Springs, without toll lanes. Why would our current legislators not fight to avoid toll lanes from Denver to the Eagle County airport? Where is the fairness in that? The claim in the Daily story alleged that the toll cost for this ridiculously short toll lane was “relatively inexpensive.” That is absurd. Compare that 13-mile stretch, originally advertised with variable tolls ranging from $10 to $30, and a claim that initial costs only averaged $8 in its first season, to the first interstate toll road built in America, from Kansas City to Topeka, Kansas, where last month I paid an increase from $2.75 to $3, for an approximate 60 mile toll road, including lots of three-lane sections.

As one of those I interviewed about our new toll lane said, “Does it cost $10 or $30? The signage is horrible!”

Another said, “Is it open or is it closed?’

What about this ridiculous federal rule that the toll lane can only be open 73 days per year. Huh? Why aren’t our legislators fighting that nonsense?

Accident Looking to Happen

And more importantly, I think this toll lane is “an accident looking for a place to happen.”

If you are driving with young children in the car, and they distract you, the you better hope that it’s not where the one sign that says the toll lane is closed and now can be used as a shoulder for parked cars. If a distracted driver misses that sign and then decides to merge into the dangerous toll lane with no concrete lane separation barriers, then they could possibly drive 60 miles an hour around a curve and rear end a parked car in the new “shoulder” lane. At those speeds, death is probable.

As a candidate for House District 26, I pledge to work to find a solution for adding a third lane from Denver to the Eagle County airport, for safety and environmental reasons.

Michael Cacioppo, of Avon, is a candidate for House District 26.

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