By Don Thompson

Will the I-70 Mountain Corridor be a new direction in transportation, or will it be just more of the same old highway expansion here, rebuilt interchange there, climbing lane here, flex lane there that spends a lot of money but never really accomplishes anything? Sierra Clubbers and other members of the public will decide.

A programmatic Environmental Impact Statement process is just now in the formative stage to look at the corridor from the Denver airport to Glenwood Springs. And your participation may well decide the outcome of the study. It is expected that this fall there will be a question on the ballot to allow $50 million from the general fund surplus this year and next year to be used for a monorail test track at the Pueblo Rail Test Facility, and, following successful tests, to build a demonstration line between Silverthorne and Frisco.

While the idea of spending $100 million on a technology which is new to the U.S. may give you pause, it becomes more understandable when you realize that it is about the same cost as that of rebuilding a limited access highway interchange.

And just what are the advantages of the proposed monorail? One of the most compelling is that for about the cost of two highway lanes, the monorail will provide the capacity of six lanes of interstate. It will operate without regard to ice and snow conditions, it will climb 8 percent grades, it will make the trip from the Denver airport to the Eagle County airport in two hours hitting speeds as high as 160 miles per hour, and it can be constructed within the existing highway corridor.

As environmentalists we may be more enthused about the fact that it can be powered by renewable electric energy rather than limited fossil fuels and the fact that the elevated structures do not restrict the movement of wildlife as do surface corridors. For residents along the corridor the idea of highway expansion is unacceptable. For taxpayers the thought of highway expansion should also be unacceptable since it will only move congestion from one location to another. But more rational proposals will be considered only if you will actively participate in the decision-making process. Calling the club office or sending an e-mail to Don Thompson will start your involvement.

 

April 2000 Online Newsletter - Peak & Prairie Home Page - Rocky Mountain Chapter Home Page