Hamner bill to nudge I-70 work
Summit Daily News
DENVER – As a slew of controversial solutions to the Interstate 70 congestion problems continue to languish, unfunded, on the shelf, Rep. Millie Hamner is preparing to introduce a bill this session to put the corridor’s woes on the radars of elected officials in Denver.
The bill would give Colorado Department of Transportation officials opportunities to bring their studies and proposed solutions before legislative transportation committees.
Hamner said it is her hope that, if the bill is passed, the testimonials of CDOT staffers will draw attention and lend urgency to the I-70 problem at the Capitol.
“I think our citizens have heard enough about studies,” Hamner said. “People are looking for practical ideas and solutions that can be put in place as quickly as possible.”
Under the legislation, CDOT would also be asked to present ideas for possible revenue sources for proposed projects – an issue that, in light of ongoing budget cuts, has been a key hold-up for proposed projects.
“The primary expert (on I-70) with the most experience is CDOT,” Hamner said. “They are closest to the problem. I always believe in empowering people closest to problem to find the solution.”
The bill has been drafted, but will not be made public until it has been officially introduced in the state House of Representatives.
The proposed legislation has backing from at least one member of the I-70 coalition.
Hamner sits on the State House transportation committee.
Transportation, and specifically, the need for congestion relief on I-70 has been a top-priority issue with Summit County voters at recent meetings, including Hamner’s first town hall meeting in Silverthorne last month.
Among the several short-term ideas to reduce traffic problems on I-70 is the proposed zipper lane. The approximately 13-mile and at least $24 million movable lane would widen I-70 eastbound to three lanes on peak Sunday afternoons by reversing one westbound lane.
The option of using shoulder space to create a third eastbound lane on peak travel days – a much cheaper option – is also under consideration. But shoulder lanes would only work up to the twin tunnels, where there is no shoulder space available and traffic would likely become backed up again.
CDOT officials are also working toward the eventual construction of a high-speed rail through the corridor. The proposed Advanced Guideway System would reduce highway traffic, transportation officials say, alleviating congestion and offering an environmentally friendly travel option. The rail is part of a long-term plan to improve the corridor.
But for most of the I-70 proposals, finding funding continues to be problematic as the state prepares for another $1 billion in budget cuts this year.
UPDATED: to remove line about CDOT support, which is not yet official.
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