Silverthorne officials share downtown plans, I-70 traffic concerns at meeting with state legislators
SILVERTHORNE — Rep. Julie McCluskie and four other state legislators toured Silverthorne Friday, July 24 to hear about the town’s economic developments.
The meeting in Silverthorne was the last leg of a two-day tour of Rifle and Summit County for business leaders and state legislators, hosted by the Colorado Competitive Council, McCluskie and Rep. Perry Will.
At the meeting, Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland and town council member Mike Spry presented on the history of the town and its plans for the future.
Spry opened the meeting by discussing the connection between Summit County and the Denver suburbs.
“There is a very clear understanding within our municipalities and with our businesses that we are incredibly dependent on people who come through that hole in the mountain,” he said, referencing the Eisenhower Tunnel. “We want to make sure that we’ve got a place that our Front Range can use as their recreational backyard.”
Hyland spoke about how the town’s plans to build a downtown area on Fourth Street will help bolster that tourism.
“We don’t have a 100-year-old downtown,” Hyland said. “The downtown is the heart and soul of your community a lot of times and we have a great community. We have heart, we have soul … We have great neighborhoods. We have all those things but we’re missing this piece.”
Hyland spoke about recent developments in Silverthorne’s downtown project, including the construction of the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center and restaurants like Sauce on the Blue and Angry James Brewery.
While the novel coronavirus impacted the timeline of the project, it should still continue on as it was planned, Hyland said in an interview.
“There was a pause period while the building industry and the county officials figured out how we’re going to navigate,” he said. “We’re very fortunate that the parking garage is almost done, the hotel is about to go underway and the market hall. The bulk of that project was not impacted except for a short delay.”
In his presentation, Hyland also spoke about the need to address traffic concerns at Interstate 70 Exit 205 in Silverthorne.
“Over the last few years, it gridlocks on a lot of dates,” he said. “That used to be maybe one holiday day a year. Every weekend now, it will back up a mile and a half. It’s becoming more than frustrating, it’s becoming a safety issue when we’re trying to navigate public safety through that.”
The legislators who attended the meeting all shared a desire to help fix the I-70 issues.
“The I-70 corridor is a huge issue that impacts not only Summit County, but I-70 also runs through Senate District 16, which I represent,” State Sen. Tammy Story said. “Transportation is a significant issue that impacts the entirety of the state.”
Story said legislators need to get behind an investment in transportation and transit infrastructure.
“We cannot just continue to recut the same size pie that we have in terms of funding and expect that we are going to solve our transportation and infrastructure problems by recutting the pie. We need another pie,” she said.
McCluskie agreed with Story that the only possible solution to the I-70 problem is a new revenue source.
“We have been working on funding our transportation needs in this state for as long as I can remember and we have not found the right package for our voters to support,” she said. “I really think, with sharing the story of our I-70 needs here, we build better understanding and maybe we find a way to improve support. We really don’t have money in the state coffers to fund the kinds of projects we’re talking about here. We’ve got to find new revenue sources.”
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