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Broken roads should be fixed

Throughout the Western Slope, the Colorado state highways’ modernization program is suffering from a near-death experience.

Hundreds of miles of state highways constructed in the 1930s are forced to meet 2004 traffic needs, including Highway 13 between Rifle and Meeker and near the Wyoming line; Highway 92 from east of Delta to Hotchkiss and Highway 133 to Paonia.

Many miles of “paved wagon roads” still exist. These ancient roads are narrow, lack shoulders, surprise drivers with sharp curves, lack guardrails, and in most cases are inadequately banked (super elevated). Consequently, too many people are being injured and killed unnecessarily.



Who’s to blame? Not staff in regional Colorado Department of Transportation offices; they are doing the best they can, with very limited allotments of highway-user tax funds. Most of the blame must be directed at CDOT management and the Colorado Transportation Commission.

Examples:



– The cost of the I-70 mountain corridor programmatic EIS is nearing $20 million. With no funding in sight, the conclusions of the PEIS will be outdated, if and when funds become available for design and construction.

– CDOT, with the backing of the transportation commissioners, is spending money on the preliminary design of a new I-70 interchange serving the Eagle Airport. Estimated cost of this project is about $70 million. The airport is presently adequately served by the Eagle and Gypsum interchanges. The chief beneficiaries of this waste of taxpayers’ money are Vail area resorts and users hurrying to or from their private jets.

The federal government (Federal Highway Administration) can be blamed for allowing the scattering of funds through miscellaneous programs such as bike paths. While desirable, they are not of national or state interest and should be funded by local entities. Tax-paying highway users need to demand better utilization of tax dollars.

Dick Prosence

Meeker


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