I-70 tolls trouble high country leaders | AspenTimes.com

I-70 tolls trouble high country leaders

Ashley Dickson
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Traffic flows on Interstate 70 through Clear Creek County, Colo. State Sen. Chris Romer's has a bill that would turn the highway into a toll road with carpool lanes when ski traffic is heaviest. (Eric Drummond/Summit Daily)

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. ” Weeks after his initial Interstate 70 toll proposal, Denver state Sen. Chris Romer is at it again.

The latest proposed bill, which will be introduced to the Senate later this month, would turn I-70 between Floyd Hill and the Eisenhower Tunnel into a carpool/toll road on Sundays throughout the year and during the busiest periods of weekend ski traffic.

While the proposed bill does offer one solution to the traffic problem, regional elected officials are not whole-heartedly in support of a bill that doesn’t take local reactions into consideration.

“To base a bill off the opinions of 88 people on an online survey is very concerning,” said Sen. Dan Gibbs. “To move a bill forward without considering the effected communities in the mountains could have a negative impact.”

Before drafting the bill, Romer created an open online forum where citizen had the opportunity to weigh in on what he refers to as the first “Wikipedia-style” legislation. Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia edited collaboratively by the public.

As one who commutes on the I-70 corridor regularly, Gibbs feels that those who live in the mountains should have a voice when it comes time to move forward with traffic solutions, and State Rep. Christine Scanlan shares his sentiments.

“While I appreciate innovative thinking, I think it’s important to consider the fact that the citizen putting their opinions on the online forum don’t necessarily live or work along the I-70 corridor and aren’t as affected by the changes that could be made,” said Scanlan, whose district includes Eagle and Summit counties.

“Although the wiki-bill is a fun way to engage people in public policy, I am more in support of the work being done by the I-70 Coalition, and I think they deserve to be heard,” Scanlan added.

The I-70 Coalition is an organization of mountain towns working on ways to reduce traffic between Denver the mountains.

Traffic to and from the mountains continues to increase annually and, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, travel along the I-70 mountain corridor is projected to increase by more than 10 million trips at the Eisenhower Tunnel over the next 20 years.

According to the bill, vehicles with fewer than three occupants would be charged a toll, thus encouraging more people to carpool and avoid driving I-70 when it’s crowded.

In addition to creating a new carpool lane, the bill proposes reversing a traffic lane during peak periods to accommodate more traffic and would require those drivers who do chose to commute during the peak times to first register their trip online at a website that would monitor traffic flow.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, Romer hopes the pilot program enacted by his bill would cut traffic by 10 to 15 percent, maintaining speeds of at least 30 mph during rush hour.

Those interested in reading suggestions about state Sen. Chris Romer’s proposed solution to I-70 traffic can log on to groups.google.com/group/fixI70now.



See more