You’d be obstructionist, too, if you lived in Clear Creek
An old professor of mine taught me, “You can’t just do one thing.” No action in physics or in human behavior can take place in a vacuum.That aphorism comes to mind when thinking about the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) proposal to bulldoze and lay flat mountains and historic areas of Clear Creek County by ripping through a six-lane Interstate 70 highway in a process spanning 15 years. When talking to folks here in Summit, a few have questioned whether their neighbors and fellow Coloradans in Clear Creek are “obstructionists.” My response: If you were faced with having your home and your neighborhood destroyed, along with your lives and livelihoods, and you took steps to prevent that from happening, you might be called an obstructionist by some as well.The people of Clear Creek are up in arms over the proposal with good reason, and I submit the people of Summit should be alarmed as well, for good reason. A 15-year project to construct a six-lane highway through Clear Creek will help destroy life as we know it in Summit as well.CDOT wants to increase the capacity of I-70 by 50 percent.Logically, that means 50 percent more vehicles coming into Summit via a multibillion-dollar third tunnel bore and, thus, 50 percent more vehicles heading to various parts of it – such as Breckenridge.Logically, that would mean the state and the county would need to increase the capacity of Highway 9 by 50 percent or build an alternative route, such as a four-lane bypass through the bike path corridor now underutilized by bicyclists, runners and cross country skiers. It’s likely in that event the good folks of Frisco would fiercely object to having their town, homes and community torn up, but for some, they would be labeled “obstructionists.”Those of us who have lived “up here” for any length of time know one does not venture forth eastbound on I-70 on certain days and at certain times – snowriding season and midsummer weekends.Being quite generous, that’s less than 48 days a year. On most of the other 317 days of the year, the trek to Denver from Summit is the usual 75 minutes.If the goal of the highway expansion, though, is to eliminate the virtual parking lot on the 48 days of mass congestion, the plan is a failure before the first shovel full is shoveled; for even by CDOT’s own admission, the proposed six-lane Tom Norton Memorial Highway, his High Country version of T-REX, will be obsolete the day it is finished. It seems Norton, CDOT executive director, has taken it upon himself to pan the one viable option that makes sense – the Advanced Guideway System or AGS.His CDOT did so by contriving figures that set an arbitrary ceiling on the prospective cost – $4 billion – and that sets a very questionable cost for the construction of an AGS that surpasses the $4 billion level.On Jan. 13, the Denver Post reported, “CDOT’s Norton rejected the notion that I-70 expansion would disrupt the mountain economy. He said the T-REX project … proves that traffic flows can be maintained while major transportation improvements are being built.” It would seem the man has never made the drive through the Clear Creek Canyon, as he is obviously unaware that there is but one road between Floyd Hill and the Twin Tunnels, one road between Georgetown and Silver Plume and one road between Bakerville and the Eisenhower Tunnel.Norton apparently does not realize that, unlike the myriad options commuters driving through the south metro area can take advantage of to avoid the T-REX mess, drivers heading to Denver from Summit and Clear Creek west of Floyd Hill have one option – the interstate.My friends and neighbors in Clear Creek are not obstructionists; they are hard-working, honest and caring and most hospitable folks, many of whom, lacking the resources and opportunities available here in Summit, live day-to-day, quite a few on fixed incomes. This boondoggle will not only put a stranglehold on the citizens and the economy of Clear Creek, but it will do considerable harm to the citizens and economy of Summit and areas west, as well.Having said that, we are not saying, “Do nothing.” The I-70 corridor is in need of long overdue attention. However, do so rationally and compassionately, by building the AGS first and making necessary modifications to the existing roadway second.Jerry Fabyanic is a retired Summit High School teacher. He writes from his home in Georgetown in Clear Creek County. He can be reached at Jfabyanic@aol.com.
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