Towns, counties to craft I-70 plan | PostIndependent.com
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Towns, counties to craft I-70 plan

Donna Gray

With the state proposing to expand Interstate 70 through the mountains and put a toll booth at the Eisenhower Tunnel and the twin tunnels east of Idaho Springs, a coalition of mountain towns and counties have banded together to make its own plan.The Colorado Department of Transportation is about to issue a 20-year plan to reduce traffic congestion on that highly traveled stretch of highway. CDOT will issue a draft of the I-70 Mountain Corridor Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement next month, followed by a 90-day public review and comment period.The Interstate 70 Central Mountain Transportation Corridor Coalition formed this year to come up with a traffic plan that will address the particular traffic issues of each county and town along the corridor.Members of the corridor coalition met in Glenwood Springs last week to begin crafting a traffic plan – or preferred alternative in government parlance – that will be offered to CDOT for inclusion in the PEIS.While CDOT’s improvements would not impact Glenwood Springs and Garfield County directly, they are in the economic sphere of influence of the other corridor municipalities and counties.”Our involvement has been to support the neighboring counties,” said Garfield County Commissioner Trési Houpt. “We are being impacted.” Houpt is the chairwoman of the Rural Resort Region that is overseeing the coalition.Members of the coalition will meet with CDOT executive director Tom Norton in Denver next month to ask for a 180-day extension of the comment period so it can have time to prepare its preferred alternative plan. In order to craft the alternative traffic management plan, the coalition hopes to hire a transportation engineer and a financial consultant, for a projected cost of about $200,000. The coalition will also ask Nolan if CDOT will front half the cost of the project, but failing that, it will go to the member governments for half the cost and raise the remainder privately.A key to the success of the coalition’s mission is cohesiveness, said Gary Severson, administrator of the Rural Resort Region, itself a coalition of five mountain resort counties: Garfield, Eagle, Lake, Pitkin and Summit, that is overseeing the coalition.”We have Idaho Springs on the east to Glenwood Springs on the west, and we need consensus” on the preferred alternative, he said. “If Tom Norton senses the coalition can work in a cooperative manner we will find some reciprocity from CDOT.”Clear Creek County, which extends from Idaho Springs to Georgetown, offered its own solutions to the traffic congestion problem. Among the solutions listed in a paper presented to the coalition meeting Thursday was an Advanced Guideway System such as a proposed magnetic levitation elevated monorail that would follow the highway, linking Denver International Airport and the Eagle County Airport. The county also wants to see a reconfiguration of I-70 between Idaho Springs and the top of Floyd Hill to link with the Central City Parkway and the proposed Blackhawk Tunnel, a move that would eliminate many dangerous curves.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com


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