Ugh. Be prepared for a rant.
Basking in the glow of a wonderful ski day spent with friends at Winter Park, I felt euphoric. Tired from skiing bumps, but in a happy way, I looked forward to getting home and having a nice dinner with my husband.
I called him to let him know my expected time of arrival.
“Hey there, it’s 4:30 and I just got on the road. I should be home by six p.m.”
In my fourth season teaching skiing at Winter Park, I know the way well. Up and over Berthoud Pass, a short stint on I-70 before turning north on the Central City Parkway and Peak to Peak to Nederland.
I’m motoring along up the pass, and suddenly, traffic lights. Everyone is stopped. Uh oh.
The Empire stoplight has foiled me again.
One and half hours later (a part of my drive that is normally 25 minutes), it’s dark and I’m in Empire, getting really hungry. And really perturbed.
CDOT in its infinite wisdom to supposedly abet the crush of traffic on I-70 heading back to Denver, made the stoplight in tiny Empire a metering light for traffic coming back from Winter Park. The light turns green for about two seconds, allowing one to two cars to go forward before turning red again.
They also put in a metering light on I-70 itself near Silverthorne for the same purpose.
But the idea behind this doesn’t jibe, when you actually get to the highway and find zero traffic. The metering light they have for the entrance ramp is not in use because there is no traffic.
In addition, CDOT is now depriving themselves of valuable revenue for the Express Lane they put in from Winter Park to Golden. You know, the one that charges anywhere from five to thirteen dollars to travel around twelve miles. Despite its exorbitant cost, it gets quite a bit of use from anxious skiers eager to get back home.
When there is actually traffic. When it’s actually open.
On many a Friday, I’ve driven the highway, clogged with traffic from the many workers who now have Fridays off and choose to go skiing. Yet the highway sign above said express lane proclaims in large red letters, “Express Lane Closed.” Ok, that makes lots of sense. Why wouldn’t you have the Express Lane open 24 hours a day, and just alter the price according to traffic patterns? Oh sorry, that makes too much sense.
Note to those who manage CDOT. You might want to actually allow express lanes that you spent so much money putting in and setting up to charge license plates or EZ passes to do their job. And stop punishing Winter Park skiers on Sundays, by tripling their drive to Empire, only to find an empty highway.
No doubt we need common sense solutions to the ever increasing amount of skier traffic using I-70 during the weekends. But creating traffic jams for people on secondary roads is not the answer, only to find an empty highway is not the answer.
Maybe we ought to suggest those CDOT employees in charge take a ride with us one Sunday and that will clear the heads for better ideas.