Summit officials miffed at CDOT | SummitDaily.com
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Summit officials miffed at CDOT

BRECKENRIDGE – County Commissioners Gary Lindstrom said he was surprised to learn that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is considering boring a third hole through the Continental Divide to address traffic congestion on Interstate 70.

But even more so, he and Commissioner Bill Wallace said they’re disappointed the state agency failed to include Summit County officials in meetings where CDOT officials outlined a variety of improvement alternatives for the corridor.

“They didn’t even bother to ask anyone in Summit County,” Lindstrom said. “I don’t know when they planned to tell us. I’m a county commissioner, and I don’t know anything about it. And you go to the Clear Creek side, and it sounds like it’s a done deal. That’s offensive to me.”



In any event, the county commissioners could eventually have their say in what is known as a “1041” review for the project’s environmental impacts.

Cecelia Joy, project manager for the Programmatic Environmental Impact Study (PEIS), said the agency has discussed alternatives with the Mountain Corridor Advisory Committee, on which Wallace has a seat.



“There has always been discussion for the need to cross the Continental Divide,” she said. “It’s not news. Maybe it’s something we haven’t focused on, but we have had discussions with the Forest Service and in Idaho Springs.”

Clear Creek County Commissioner JoAnn Sorensen agreed.

“CDOT has had many, many meetings with Clear Creek County interests,” she said. “Issues have been discussed quietly because of the (potential) impacts to the Loveland Ski Area. I don’t think they even wanted to say that much – probably at Loveland’s request. It’s pretty touchy for them because of the potential impact on their business.”

Wallace said CDOT hasn’t held a stakeholder meeting about the I-70 PEIS in about a year. But he and Lindstrom said they believe that since any construction along the I-70 corridor would likely affect Summit County, they should have been invited to attend those discussions.

Lindstrom is still frustrated that Gov. Owens seems to be set against even studying the use of alternative transit through the High Country.

“Gov. Owens and Tom Norton (executive director for CDOT) are both vehemently opposed to alternate transit,” he said. “For them, the only alternative would be to increase the number of lanes and add another bore. I think I could support a third bore if they were doing something with alternative transportation. This is so short-sighted. It’ll take a minimum of 10 years to build it. Transportation in the United States will change dramatically in the next 10 years.”

Joy said CDOT is, indeed, looking at the long-term needs of the mountain communities. And although the statewide population has dramatically increased in the past decade, CDOT officials don’t think that pace will continue. Also, she said, some mountain communities are nearing buildout, which CDOT officials are considering as they study the alternatives.

“You need to factor in other things like geographic constraints and water availability. The important question for decision makers will be how they want Colorado to grow in the future.”

Joy said the state won’t break ground until numerous studies, designs, cost analyses and project phasing is determined. CDOT has yet to release cost estimates to the public, she said.

That failure to inform stakeholders generates rumors, Wallace said.

“Certainly their answers aren’t endorsed by everyone,” he said. “But how much endorsement they’re looking for from all stakeholders versus how much they’re looking for from Norton and Owens and their own engineers, I don’t know.

“I think it was a huge mistake to not have at least two stakeholder meetings a year – this is on everyone’s mind,” he said. “They’ll put this together, present an evaluation of possibilities at the next meeting and ask, “Do you want red, green or blue?’ If you like chartreuse or maroon, you’re out of luck.

“I feel left out,” he added. “I feel CDOT really blew it by not having stakeholder meetings. And I think they understand that.”

The next stakeholder meeting is scheduled 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 16 at the Four Points Sheraton in Silverthorne.

———–

Interstate 70 Improvement Alternatives

– Fixed guideway or rail transit from C-470 in Jefferson County. Tie the system to metro Denver transit systems and extend it to Vail. This alternative would require a third bore in the Continental Divide.

– Bus/fixed guideway. This would involve using a traditional bus with an extra wheel in a guideway that takes over the steering. Could be electric or diesel. This would require a third bore.

– A highway alternative could include six lanes from the top of Floyd Hill to the west side of the Continental Divide. This would require a new bore.

– Adding two lanes that would have the flexibility to reverse traffic depending on traffic flow. This would require a new bore.

– A minimal action alternative addresses site specific

congestion problems and could include such improvements as adding additional climbing lanes, improving interchanges, straightening curves or encouraging people to use

alternative transportation.

NOTE: The proposed alternatives would likely be built on the north side of the interstate, and in CDOT rights-of-ways, to avoid Loveland Ski Area operations.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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