Does Expanding Your Belt Solve Obesity?

By Don Thompson, RMC Transportation Chair

Most people would not think of obesity as an environmental issue, and I’d agree with them. However a recent issue of High Country News quoted Gary Richardson, a highway board member from Ada County, Idaho, as saying that "Adding more traffic lanes is like adding a notch to your belt to deal with obesity". The reason I find the quote of interest is that the ski industry in Colorado has been calling for added traffic lanes to deal with what they see as a capacity problem with I-70.

Of interest to anyone looking at the I-70 "problem" should be the facts shown below which were obtained from a resolution of the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) passed on May 20, 1998.

Issue: I-70/Metro East Corridor/Metro West Corridor

• Annual Hours of Congestion: 160/1,785/1,530

• Vehicle Miles Added (Reduced): 160,000/(112,200) in both corridors

• Passengers per Day: 5,000/37,500 in both corridors

• Cost: $5.100 Billion/$0.715 Billion combined cost

From the figures shown, it is obvious why DRCOG does not want to be involved with spending our limited transportation dollars on the portion of I-70 in the metro area. It would seem that "congestion pricing" or some other method of short term control should be attempted so that rail or some other "fixed guideway" solution may be found.