Here in Denver, there’s been constant and ongoing debate about ways to get skiiers to the mountains. The congested I-70 corridor becomes a parking lot every weekend during the ski season, and increasingly in the summer months. Weather can dramatically exacerbate the problem.
On New Year’s Eve this year, snow and blowing snow closed town the highway for almost 24 hours. It’s not unheard of to spend more than four hours in the car on the weekend for a trip that can take as little as an hour and a half.
There’s been a lot of press recently about one state legislator’s solution. He wants a market-driven approach where skiiers would pay a toll to drive the route when they want to, and those that are travelling, but not interested in skiing, would get paid to delay their trip. This is unworkable on so many levels, but at least it escalated the debate.
One idea for the I-70 gridlock issue that really resonates with me is an express bus that would take you right to the resort, coupled with long-term ski lockers to keep your gear there. A more long-term and dream solution would be a train along the I-70 corridor.
The Washington Policy Center just came out with a memo of five principles of responsible transportation policy to help guide policymakers in returning to a system that provides people freedom of movement.
- Tie spending to congestion relief
- Respect peopleâ€™s freedom of mobility
- Invest resources based on market demand
- Improve freight mobility
- Use Public/Private Partnerships
There are some good common sense guidelines here that will hopefully get some broad review. The ski areas themselves are a very logical partner for the solution as they’re very aware that climate warming could mean their doom. They’ve spent a good deal of money and resources to make their resorts and policies more green as a result. What’s missing is a greening of transportation to really address this problem head on. Perhaps a public/private partnership is what’s needed between resorts and government for a workable solution.
There’s a group called the I-70 Coalition for those interested specifically in the I-70 problem. They have many tips and tricks on their website, as well as an e-newsletter that will keep you up to date on the debate and proposed solutions.