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Colorado May Implement Pricey Toll Lane Aimed at Ski Traffic

A reader sent in an article about Colorado’s new variable-priced toll lane that extends 13 miles on Interstate 70 between the mountains and Denver. While toll lanes are nothing new there are a number of interesting aspects to this one:

  • It only runs 72 days a year (weekends and Monday holidays)
  • The toll is priced based on the traffic situation. When traffic is bad, it will cost as much as $30. When traffic is lighter is may cost as little as $3.
  • This is likely the most expensive toll per mile in the U.S.
  • The toll-lane is only operated down the mountain into Denver, which is where traffic backlogs often occur.

The Park Rag reader noted: “Consider I-80/US 40/SR 248 ‘Express Route’ to/from Kearns Campus ? parking; shuttles to/from PCMR or CANYONS sites or ?DV????? (avoiding SR 224 stop & go). SR248 would be designated/enforced ‘3 lane’ during high-occupancy periods.”

The reader has a point. Imagine a variably priced toll that costs up to $30 to drive in on 248 or 224 during weekends and holiday periods. This could cut two ways. Either the toll could be used to incentivize people to take the bus (or carpool) or it could be used to gain revenue to offset other programs targeted at reducing congestion. Or Both.

The idea of busing from the Kearns School Campus may work on weekends but the parking lot would be too full during school days (and Sundance). That said, there is the Park and Ride out past Park City Heights that the city always talks about using but never seems to pull the trigger on.

The idea of pricey tolls is interesting. There are details to be worked out like how to minimally impact those who live and work in town (and depend on those corridors) and the inevitable push back from the resorts. If somebody is going to make $30 off of cars, I’m sure Vail wants it to be them.

Yet, it’s another idea to put in our quiver of potential solutions –one that we get a free ticket to watch (in Colorado) and see how it works out.

Each time I read about these ideas, it just reminds me that busing alone (or rail alone) isn’t a solution by itself. I know Summit County and Park City are still working on trying to find solutions. I know that they are hoping Mountain Accord will chip in $400,000 for a transportation study. I just hope that it doesn’t come back with more of the same-old-same-old. If rehashed solutions would have solved the problem, it would be fixed by now.

We need some out of the box ideas. Perhaps toll roads aren’t it, but perhaps they are part of the solution if done effectively.

Thanks to the reader who sent in the article and comments


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