Fixes for Interstate 70 should consider the coming scarcity of oil
Our local officials are debating how to respond to the various alternatives proposed by the Colorado Department of Transportation for Interstate 70.
Several issues need to be kept in mind.
First, CDOT has said that anything to be done to I-70 (except minor work) will probably be a 15-year project.
Second, CDOT has set the upper limit on cost at $4 billion. All the alternatives, other than minor work, will surely end up costing more than $4 billion.
Third, any major increase in traffic flowing off of I-70 into Summit County will either require very significant local expenditures to accommodate the traffic, or else the county and towns will experience major traffic jams.
I have not seen any discussion by the county or towns of how much would need to be spent to accommodate much larger traffic flows, or where this money would come from. CDOT has made clear that it does not consider local traffic jams their problem.
Fourth, looking 15 years out (when any major project might be completed) the projections for automobile traffic may be unrealistic. The Rotary Club of Summit County heard a petroleum consultant speak last week.
He pointed out that the discovery of new oil reserves has been on a downward trend since the 1970s. He said that the consensus of oil experts was that oil production would begin to decline some time in the period from 2010 to 2020.
Petroleum technology fixes will only slow the decline of production and all will add large costs to each barrel produced.
Future visions, such as hydrogen, are not yet feasible and may never be.
Hybrid cars can help to reduce our demand for oil, but it will take a long time to replace the 235 million licensed vehicles in the U.S.
Currently, the U.S. consumes almost 25 percent of all the oil produced in the world. But auto use in China, India and other developing nations is growing fast.
There will be more and more demand for oil at the same time the supply is declining. The price of oil products, especially gasoline, will go up.
How will this affect auto travel on I-70? Will the CDOT projections of large growth in auto travel hold up or will there be a slow down?
Our local officials should consider these issues before taking a position on the I-70 alternatives proposed by CDOT.
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