No solutions for I-70 congestion, yet |

No solutions for I-70 congestion, yet

Kimberly Nicoletti
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Russell George, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, was the keynote speaker at the Silverthorne Business Breakfast at the Silverthorne Pavilion Wednesday morning. (Mark Fox/Summit Daily)

SILVERTHORNE ” Ninety percent of The Mint’s customers are tourists, and manager James Kubik is seeing more and more of them frustrated with traffic on Interstate 70.

Unfortunately, Colorado Department of Transportation executive director Russell George couldn’t give Summit County business owners a specific answer on when they’ll see a workable plan to ease I-70 congestion.

George, appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter on Jan. 20, was the keynote speaker at Silverthorne’s annual business breakfast Wednesday. He shared his philosophy on finding transportation solutions with approximately 145 people at the Silverthorne Pavilion.

Trying to agree on solutions to I-70 bottlenecks has been a seven-year project. Governor Bill Ritter hopes to decide on the corridor remedy by November. George, the only member of the governor’s cabinet from the Western Slope, said the decision will probably not happen this year. When asked about the time frame, he said, “It will be some months ” certainly, it can’t be some years, I hope.”

He supports the process of listening to what all interested parties have to say, then making a decision.

“There’s still quite a lot of disagreement up and down the corridor,” George said. “Once we’re doing it together, we can walk those last steps.”

He recognizes that a decision needs to be made quickly, because time is money, but he doesn’t want to rush into anything at the expense of causing people to feel the process wasn’t fair, public or complete enough.

“We have to try to figure out how to rebuild relationships so that most, if not all, of us feel comfortable that the decision is fair and transparent,” he said. “Then, we need to decide. Big decisions like this cannot be made by a large group, so we have to get our confidence in fewer and fewer people until we get there ” and it’s got to happen soon … because then it’s going to take 20 years after the decision.”

During the question and answer session, one man asked about proposed solutions that CDOT nixed because of the $4 billion budget constraint. George admitted the constraint “got twisted” and said CDOT would talk more about proposals that didn’t make the cut.

“It worries me a little, because it sounds like we’re starting over, but we have to figure out if the practical constraints are still real,” George said, adding, “I do get your point.”


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