Forecast: Lots more highway traffic and trucks by 2035 |

Forecast: Lots more highway traffic and trucks by 2035

Dennis WebbPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

By the year 2035, Interstate 70 between Glenwood Springs and Silt can be expected to join Highway 82 as a congested road with rush-hour delays.A significant increase in truck traffic also will take place on area highways, with truck volumes on highways 82, 13 and 133 reaching levels comparable to those on Interstate 70 now.Those projections are included in a draft 2035 transportation plan for Colorado’s Intermountain region, which includes Garfield, Pitkin, Summit, Eagle and Lake counties.That plan is part of a draft statewide plan that forecasts a $151 billion funding gap between anticipated transportation needs and projected revenue from 2008 to 2035.Absent new funding, the plan says, the average driver on the state’s congested routes would experience daily delays of nearly 70 minutes, up from 22 minutes today. Only a quarter of the state’s roadway surfaces would have a good or fair rating, compared to 60 percent now. Sixty percent of bridges would be in good or fair shape, down from 94 percent.”Transportation revenues are not keeping pace with the projected growth, aging infrastructure and rising construction costs,” CDOT Executive Director Russell George, of Rifle, and state Transportation Commission Chairman Douglas Aden say in a cover letter accompanying the state draft.The draft was released in September. A public open house on it was held in Glenwood Springs on Thursday.

The plan predicts that the state’s population will grow from about 5 million today to 7.8 million in 2035. The Western Slope’s population is projected to jump the most during that time – 84 percent – causing areas in the region “to experience congestion traditionally found in more urban areas,” the report says. Garfield County is anticipated to increase in numbers to 146,271, from 50,676 in 2005.Much of the county’s growth is expected to occur west of Glenwood Springs. The state anticipates traffic on I-70 from Glenwood to Silt will exceed a volume-to-capacity ratio of 0.85 by 2035. Roads above that level are considered to be above capacity, as parts of Highway 82 are now.As measured by weight, freight traffic in Colorado is expected to grow by 2.5 times between 2002 and 2035, compared to a doubling in such traffic nationwide. Trucks haul 70 percent of the state’s freight.Average annual daily traffic on I-70 throughout the Intermountain region already was between 1,041 and 3,050 trucks per day in 2005, a range that is expected to be reached by 2035 on Highway 13 north of Rifle, Highway 82 between Glenwood and Aspen, and Highway 133 south of Carbondale.Highway 13, which is experiencing heavy energy development traffic, averaged 620 to 1,041 trucks per day in 2005, and highways 82 and 133 averaged 331-620 trucks.The state plan lays out a transportation vision for highways, air travel and mass transit that would cost $227 billion between 2008-35. But anticipated transportation revenue for that period is just $76 billion. Simply to keep conditions as they are would cost $63 billion, the plan says.The plan estimates the transportation vision for the Intermountain region to be about $28.4 billion through 2035, including $17.7 billion in transit costs and $340 million for aviation. However, under current conditions the planning region is expected to be allocated less than $2 billion over that period.A panel created by Gov. Bill Ritter is looking at possible options for increasing state transportation revenues.

Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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