A common refrain among non-voters in America is that elections don’t matter. This past November, Colorado voters switched from having a Republican in control of the state’s executive branch to a Democrat. While some in labor may still be feeling disappointed with how things have turned out, there has clearly been a switch in perspective at CDOT.
One of the most critical transportation projects facing Colorado over the next 20 years is how to improve traffice flow along I-70, to accomodate growth in mountain tourism.
As Kevin Flynn, of the Rocky Mountain News reports, there is a new sheriff in town. Well, at least there is a new Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation (Russ George), and he’s looking to mend some fences torn down by Bill Owens and his director of CDOT, Tom Norton.Norton’s CDOT spent $25 million on a study of the 155 mile Golden to Glenwood Springs travel corridor, and had decided that any combination of solutions to relieving traffic flow should not exceed $4 billion. This limited price tag made it virtually impossible to afford both wider roads and some form of transit.
Surging construction costs have made that $4 billion cap even less realistic. Less than a year later, George has tossed out that limit and reopened the conversation (with some time limits) with the communities that line the corridor.
George notes that he is more likely to find additional sources of funding, and thus a longer term solution, if he works with stakeholders, rather than simply paving over them.
To many, this may seem like a minor change of emphasis, but to those whose livelihood depends on a steady stream of tourists into the mountains, this shift is much more meaningful.