Thursday, March 27, 2008

I-70 Bills Get Hearings Today

Two bills aimed at reducing congestion on I-70 through the Rocky Mountains will be heard by a Senate committee today.

Both bills, introduced by Sens. Chris Romer, D-Denver, and Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, contemplate tolls on the highway. Romer's proposal would assess the tolls on vehicles carrying three or fewer people and which are traveling during peak use periods. McElhany's bill proposes to charge tolls at all times.

The Romer bill would use money generated by the tolls to pay for mass transit expansion along the corridor, while the minority leader's measure would use the money to add additional lanes to the highway.

A report in today's Rocky Mountain News says that Colorado has already been given authority by the federal government to charge tolls on the interstate highway.

Some West Slope lawmakers are critical of the measures.

According to a report in this morning's Denver Post, Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, thinks the General Assembly will be dealing with "Johnny-come-lately," since there is an ongoing review process underway. And the article quotes Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon, as saying there is no "magic bullet" to solve the I-70 congestion problems.

The state department of transportation has been sponsoring a collaborative study of possible ways to ease traffic woes on I-70.

The Rocky Mountain Rail Authority is also examining the feasibility of developing a high-speed passenger rail system for the I-70 corridor.

The bills are SB 209 (Romer) and SB 213 (McElhany).