A bridge we’d rather not cross, thank you
Third District Congressman Scott McInnis is trying to do a big favor for his hometown, but it’s coming at the expense of folks in nearby Lake County.
McInnis recently convinced his U.S. House of Representatives colleagues to earmark $6.5 million in funds within the Surface Transportation Extension Act for the South Bridge project in Glenwood Springs.
Turns out that the earmarked Glenwood project would bump aside two-thirds of the funding for a project to improve Highway 24 between Leadville and Tennessee Pass.
Is it appropriate for U.S. taxpayers to fund what is essentially a city and county bridge project?
Moreover, is there a stronger need for the South Bridge than for improvements to a twisty mountain road used daily by hundreds of worker bees driving from Leadville to Vail?
McInnis, working in close collaboration with former Mayor Don Vanderhoof, is promoting the South Bridge as a health and safety issue. After watching thousands of South Glenwood and Four Mile residents evacuate down one road and across one bridge during the Coal Seam Fire, they are promoting the South Bridge as a second route for escape.
Well, yes, and it would also make life easier for those folks on a daily basis, offering a shortcut to head upvalley and easing traffic on the Sunlight Bridge.
But is it right for a Glenwood Springs project to jump to the top of a funding list that’s already been carefully hammered out by a planning group representing neighboring mountain counties?
As much as Glenwood Springs and Garfield County would appreciate the federal windfall, it shouldn’t come at the expense of a project that has worked its way through the planning process and may well be more worthwhile in the bigger picture.
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