DeVos: For whom the CDOT tolls |

DeVos: For whom the CDOT tolls

Jon DeVos
The Friday Report
Jon DeVos
Staff Photo |

Boy, you’ve gotta hand it to the Colorado Department of Transportation for their brilliant solution to the traffic congestion on the 2-lane, I-70 corridor between Empire and Idaho Springs. Years of planning, study and discussion went into finding the right answer.

Monorails were discussed and discarded, light rail was too expensive, traffic tunnels to Boulder were tossed out, but they finally came up with a dazzling solution. They would spend years and years and millions and millions to upgrade the mountainous 2-lane freeway into … a mountainous 2-lane freeway. No, seriously, that’s what all that time and taxes got us.

CDOT swears they did not hire Chris Christy as a consultant for the project, but the end result is that for 30 more bucks the cops will let you drive for 13 miles on the shoulder of the road. That’ll help. Well, except for all those times when I-70 is closed for rockslides, avalanches and car wrecks. Oh yeah, don’t forget the 293 days per year that the shoulder-lane will absolutely be closed because CDOT didn’t make it wide enough for year-round traffic. They’ll probably only open it on the days they can extort the most money from starving motorists dying to get to Carl’s Jr. in Idaho Springs.

Supporters explain that the 30 bucks is a bargain that allows impatient travelers to get closer to their departing plane. A CDOT spokesman said, “People will still miss their planes, OK, that’s a given. But look, people have always missed planes. Our goal was to keep their hopes alive for another 13 miles. One really cool feature is that our Outrage Cams are streaming straight to YouTube, capturing tourist faces after paying 30 bucks to merge back into a traffic jam.”

Finally the mountain towns can add even more bragging rights: Colorado has the most expensive toll stretch of highway in America. Brings a tear to the eye, don’t it? Considering how ski biz is pricing itself out of biz, what are 30 more bucks? Here you are in your big red Mercedes, zipping past lesser individuals. A few days later your accounting firm gets your photo (white teeth, hair is perfect) and a bill that you’ll never see for 30 dollars.

Preparation for the toll cameras could explain the rash of license plate thefts in ski towns. That’s just mountain folks figuring out how to avoid those pesky tolls. A spot of Velcro here, another one there, then you covertly paste on the purloined plates while enjoying some butter pecan on a side street by the Sweet Shop in Empire. The Sweet Shop is not an integral part of the plan, I just like butter pecan. Ten minutes later you’re slipping them off in a car wash bay in Idaho Springs. Minimal risk.

Far be it from me to condone illicit activities, so I’ll only mention that some miscreant with a low regard for decency, CDOT, and the law might go to and order a TollFree Protector. The TFP is a thin plastic sheet that fits closely over your license plate. Constructed of micro-prisms it scatters the light from toll cameras rendering the numbers unreadable. The manufacturer claims that it’s also effective against red light cameras.

You might not even need to go through all that trouble. Photo Blocker is a spray-on product that costs around 30 bucks for enough to do four license plates – his and hers, maybe. Photo Blocker lays down a completely invisible coating of reflective beads over the numbers on your plate. The reflection causes the flash to overexpose the photo, leaving the dumb cluck in the big red Mercedes behind you to pick up the tab. That’s the manufacturer’s theory anyway.

There’s controversy over how effective these products are. No lesser authorities than Tom Martino and Fox News collaborated with the Denver Police Department in closed course testing and declared that Photo Blocker worked quite well, and people who used the spray would not be paying tolls. I don’t make this stuff up.

However, I needed no better proof than Tom’s show to convince me that spray-on products were totally ineffective and gave no protection whatsoever.

So we’re back to old-school. Where’d I put those Velcro dots?

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