Silverthorne/Sen. Dan GIbbs: I-70 mountain corridor update | SkyHiNews.com

Silverthorne/Sen. Dan GIbbs: I-70 mountain corridor update

For those gritting their teeth waiting in traffic jams along I-70 instead of hitting the slopes, improvements along this critically important highway cannot come soon enough. Although the pace of improvements may seem as slow as the traffic inching along on a winter weekend evening, drivers should know that there are efforts under way to provide some relief.

Elected officials, including myself, are involved in a number of initiatives looking at both short- and long-term solutions. The focus here is to collaborate on options that can help move people, goods and services more efficiently and safely. Funding is always a roadblock, but once we have arrived at some consensus on a vision, the search for funding will begin in earnest.

The largest effort ” the process that is looking at how to structurally address the congested sections between Denver and Glenwood Canyon ” is being conducted by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration. Officials with the towns, counties and major employers along the I-70 mountain corridor are working together to arrive at a consensus-based approach that may involve some mix of transit, additional lanes and other major improvements, which then would be submitted to CDOT. Work on this long-term plan is expected to be completed in May of this year with a final proposed plan to be issued in 2009.

In addition to this systematic approach, the local communities are initiating an effort to examine existing land use regulations and zoning codes along the I-70 mountain corridor to determine how these codes can be improved to facilitate better mobility and transit options to relieve congestion. Mass transit must be a part of the solution to the problems along I-70, and this process will help us find ways to make transit more of an attractive and workable option.

Use of rail is also an option. That’s why there is another project under way to examine the feasibility of implementing a high-speed rail line along the corridor and connecting that line to possible high-speed rail along the I-25 corridor from Wyoming to New Mexico. This study will assess the potential usage of such an option and whether it would meet other requirements for required federal approval.

These planning efforts are long-term. But the need for action is now. In that regard, the communities and businesses along I-70 are working in partnership with Denver communities (through the Denver Regional Council of Governments) in a project that will identify and implement what steps can be taken now to address traffic congestion during peak travel times, typically on weekends. With the close cooperation of the ski areas, it is anticipated that there will be strategies employed that will provide some measure of congestion relief starting with the 2008-09 ski season.

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For those of us who live, work and recreate along this corridor, failure to act is not an option. The future quality of life and economic viability of not only the I-70 communities are at stake, but the entire state as well. That’s why there are so many complementary initiatives under way to find the right solutions and get them implemented. In so doing, people can enjoy their Colorado destinations and not curse the trek to get there.

For more information, visit http://www.i70solutions.org.

” State Sen. Dan Gibbs (D-Silverthorne) represents the most heavily traveled section of the I-70 mountain corridor as well as Boulder, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jefferson and Summit counties.

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