CDOT looks to shift Summit County to West Slope region
Ryan Summerlin November 11, 2012
The Colorado Department of Transportation put forward a new plan that could shift Summit County into the agency’s West Slope region, grouping it in with Eagle County and western Colorado for funding and planning on highway projects.
The proposed new map separates Summit County from planning Region 1, which includes the Eisenhower Tunnel and the east half of the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, and moves it into Region 3.
Regions share a budget for highway projects as well as engineering and leadership teams within the transportation department.
“Region 3 is West Slope, and has more mountain characteristics,” CDOT spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said of the suggestion to move Summit County. “It’s better aligning the resources with the appropriate characteristics in a region.”
But local officials aren’t thrilled with the idea of Summit County being separated from the Eisenhower Tunnel and the I-70 mountain corridor, both of which are crucial to the local tourism economy, connecting the ski areas to Denver International Airport and the Front Range market.
“They’re considering some good, efficient changes that make sense,” Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “But for us, the tunnel and I-70 being well managed throughout the whole corridor is our top concern.”
Operations tend to run less smoothly across regions, an issue that became clear with the recreation path project over Vail Pass, which crosses from the current Region 1 into Region 3, Stiegelmeier said.
In a letter responding to the proposed map, officials from Blue River, Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco, Silverthorne and the county government asked CDOT to continue to focus on implementing a long-term improvement plan for the heavily congested mountain corridor regardless of regional divisions.
The proposed map, now available for stakeholders to review, would also eliminate Region 6, a small central region encompassing the Denver metro area that currently bisects I-70.
CDOT officials are looking at the regional reorganization as an opportunity to, “make sure we’re improving our customer service, not just with the public but with planning partners, and trying to create some efficiencies and save some money,” Stegman said.
CDOT has been considering reorganizing the regional map for better efficiency for several years. The current proposal was drafted after the metro area’s regional director retired.
It is still unclear what the proposed changes could mean for regional funding for highway projects and maintenance.
While a regional restructuring is definitely coming, what it will look like is not yet finalized. CDOT officials are waiting for responses from local communities before moving forward with future plans.
“What we’re getting feedback on is to see if there’s something else that could be done,” Stegman said. “We purely just threw (this map) out there for reactions.”
Final decisions likely will not be made until spring.