Interstate 70 Proposed Ban on Trucks to Ease Peak Time Congestion

March 21, 2011

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Today, we're looking at the CO proposal for banning trucks from I-70 to ease congestion at peak times:
Summit County CO – legislators are considering a ban on trucking traffic during peak times on the heavily congested I-70. During the ski season, the roads to and from the Front Range create a traffic nightmare, and legislators, county and state officials fear it will cost billions of dollars to put right.
According to County Commissioner, Dan Gibbs, one possible solution is to impose a trucking ban, which will not cost the taxpayer much money. To be fair, Gibbs is also looking at other solutions too, however banning trucks appears to be an easy win for the county and the local taxpayer – but not so good for truckers.
Gibbs introduced legislation last year to create "Zipper Lanes" in the General Assembly for Colorado. This proposed using movable barriers to create an additional traffic lane in the congested area between the Eisenhower-Johnson and Floyd Hill tunnels. In addition, Gibbs also introduced new laws providing more chain up points on I-70 and an increase in penalties for non-compliant truckers.
Earlier in March, the CO Department of Transportation (CDOT) published an impact study conducted on I-70 along with several improvement proposals. Taking the most basic improvement scenario, the bill is estimated in the region of $2 billion. In budget constrained times such as these, $2 billion is a lot of loose change to go out and find.
Even less palatable is the $20 billion price tag which comes attached to some of the more advanced proposals for improvements. Colorado appropriates only $1 billion a year for the entire state – bottom line is Colorado does not have the money.
But is that not the real underlying problem here?
If CO is only appropriating $1 billion for the entire state road infrastructure, is this just a demonstration of under spending and poor investment allocation into a creaking road network which is finally reaching the breaking point?
That strikes me as a far better explanation for the current problems; but the pragmatic issue is that the congestion is here and now and the trucker ban looks like a very easy win.
Ameliorating Gibbs possible truck ban is the fact that he sees the congestion issue as a weekend problem. Congestion issues arise primarily at the weekends, especially as weekend visitors flock into the ski resorts. Barring truckers from the highways for as little as 3 or 4 hours may be enough to alleviate the worst of the problem, according to Gibbs, but on the other hand, this could be simply the thin end of the wedge.
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