Grand County officials ‘go on record’ opposing I-70 toll
April 22, 2008
Grand County leaders oppose the idea of making Interstate 70 a toll road.
Senate Minority Leader Andrew McElhany’s is championing a bill that would charge drivers a $5 toll when they pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel. The fee would fund the widening of the I-70 highway.
Grand County officials are concerned this would increase congestion on I-70, reduce tourism and hurt mountain businesses.
The Grand County Board of County Commissioners and the Winter Park Town Council recently passed resolutions stating their opposition of the bill.
County Commissioner Nancy Stuart was one of about three dozen residents and officials from mountain communities to testify against the potential toll March 27 at a rally on the Colorado Capitol steps.
“We already got the congestion, and we don’t need any more,” Stuart said. “We’re not in favor of the toll at all. It was never presented to anyone that had anything to do with the mountains.”
The bill is scheduled for a second reading at the end of the week. Commissioners plan to keep fighting the bill.
“If we need to go down and testify again we certainly will,” Stuart said. “I just think there’s better ways to do it.”
While Stuart doesn’t believe the House will pass the bill, she said she was surprised when the Senate Transportation Committee approved McElhany’s Senate Bill 213 in a 5-2 vote.
“Anything could happen,” she said.
The Blue Ribbon Task Force, appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter to evaluate the state’s transportation needs, made five recommendations that did not include a toll. A group of concerned citizens and lawmakers, known as the I-70 Corridor Collaborative Effort Team, is set to release recommendations this summer.
“To have tolls … just thrown out there, it’s not allowing for a good solution to be put into place,” said Winter Park Manager Dave Torgler. “Tourism is extremely important to our community.”
Winter Park residents have expressed their concerns to him about a potential toll, he said.
The Winter Park Town Council unanimously adopted a resolution last week in opposition of the toll.
The resolution states that “no residents or businesses of any county should be exempted from the payment of tolls on I-70 if a toll highway is adopted.”
“We wanted to go on record,” Torgler said. “I think this is a grass roots response.”
State Representatives and members of the I-70 Coalition will receive copies of the Winter Park and Grand County resolution.