When thinking about I-70, think what happened to Cape Cod, Jersey Shore
County commissioner Gary Lindstrom’s July 24 column about Interstate 70 was quite interesting, and I would like to give my perspective to this issue of transportation, growth and traffic as it relates to a resort community.
I have spent most of my life living and owning businesses in resort towns both here and in other places. It is a delicate balance, for sure, of “how much is enough” when it comes to the issue of getting people to a resort and fostering not only the very environment they are coming to experience, but also the appropriate amount of sustainable growth for those who live and work in and around the resort.
One needs only to look at the dilemmas that exist at both Cape Cod, Mass., and the Jersey Shore to see that at times – more is really less and less is really more.
Both Cape Cod and the Jersey Shore built amazing, multiple-lane highways to get as many people as quickly as possible to those places.
The problem is, once you get off these high-speed three- to six-lane highways – you enter small seashore towns with low speed limits, traffic lights and small one-lane roads.
Given that, the cluster of traffic which exists once you get off the jammed-up highway is unprecedented. And the feeder highway itself has already been outgrown by the increasing number of people using it – paradoxically because they heard you can get to the resorts quickly.
What they have effectively done now is killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
People who live in the city and work a 60-hour week do not want “more of the same” when they hit the road to go to the High Country. They want a slower, easier pace and they want to not be stressed out by the very same traffic they have to deal with day in, day out.
Cape Cod is now, because of its efforts to increase the volume of tourist through better roads, losing its tourist base to Maine, where the tourist doesn’t have to deal with enormous amounts of people creating enormous traffic snarls and long lines to every imaginable amenity.
More is less and less is more sometimes.
As far as the Jersey Shore goes, those poor people gave up on that place and started to head to Cape Cod to avoid the whole Jersey Shore traffic mess, only to find, to their horror, that Cape Cod followed the Jersey Shore’s lead and created the exact same infrastructure.
If I didn’t remember both places fondly as pristine little havens that got raped by “visionaries” who wanted “bigger highways” and “bigger hotels” – it would almost be funny, but it’s not.
One only needs to look at the dilemma the ski industry inadvertently created when it introduced new high-speed, six-passenger chairlifts to help ease the increasing liftlines. God forbid we have to wait for anything on vacation.
So, now we have successfully eliminated the log jam down at the liftlines, and with the precision of a great surgeon, moved the log jam up to the trail systems themselves. Is it me or does anyone else see that as a really bad deal for the skier?
I own retail shops at Copper and Keystone and as much as I would like to make more money from more tourists, at this point in my life, I would prefer making a little less and preserving my quality of life a little more.
I do agree with Mr. Lindstrom totally on the idea “of having some sort of whiz-bang transit system heading to Eagle County Regional Airport. That would remove a ton of cars from the interstate going to DIA, west to Eagle County airport – were it to be marketed correctly.”
One more thought: my wife and I remain eternally faithful to, and visit every year, a little island in the French West Indies (St. Bart’s) primarily because, as a tourist community, it has remained faithful to its beliefs of no airport expansion, no planes bigger then 15 passengers and no cruise ships allowed to visit.
Although the island certainly make a lot less money than the neighboring island of St Martin’s, it has managed to preserve its quality of life in return for a little less insanity.
Lastly, I think anyone who believes we should get more people up here faster and in higher volumes should dust off their old Eagles record, and listen to the song “The Last Resort,” particularly the line which says, “They called it paradise, I don’t know why, you call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye.”
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