As a part-time ski instructor at Winter Park, I work sometimes on Sundays. When I first started five years ago, this wasn’t such a big deal in terms of commuting time. Yeah, I got up a bit earlier, but it was mainly to secure better parking.
That has dramatically changed. Last year, I worked a Sunday in February, and regretted that decision on my drive home. Or should I say my gridlock time on U.S. 40.
I knew I was in trouble almost as soon as I left Winter Park. Despite two lanes available going uphill, the traffic was stopped. All the way up to Berthoud Pass, it was stop and go, stop and go. I have a manual transmission car, and I feared I would burn out the clutch on my car. At 23 miles away, the drive to Empire normally takes about a half-hour. That day? It took my three times that long, finally arriving after 1 1/2 hours of crawling along on U.S. 40. All told, my drive back to Nederland took 3 1/2 hours, two hours longer than typical.
The culprit? The stoplight in Empire, which CDOT now uses to meter the Winter Park traffic. The goal is to prevent I-70 Eastbound from becoming completely gridlocked. The same scenario is replayed on I-70 at Silverthorne and on Colorado Highway 9 from Breckenridge.
There are simply too many drivers on the road driving back to Denver from the various ski resorts along I-70. Given that, wouldn’t you think CDOT would entertain any and all possibilities for reducing traffic? This is what I asked myself as I read about a new app designed to help with this colossal problem.
Last month, an app, Treadshare, launched. The idea was that was for drivers to share the cost of gas and mileage by connecting people heading to the mountains to carpool. The benefits would be many — saving money, cutting down on traffic, and cutting down on pollution from all the cars on the road. What is there not to like?
But the Colorado Public Utilities Commission said otherwise, and shut the app down. Though the app was meant to share costs, not make profits, they didn’t make the distinction. They put such an app in the same category as Uber and Lyft, requiring expensive licensing.
So much for progress.
The problems are not going to go away. With the population of Colorado an particularly the Front Range increasing, more and more cars will use I-70.
The only modest progress made by CDOT was putting in an Express Lane from Highway 6 to the Winter Park exist, a mere 12-miles. Even that isn’t altogether effective. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve been stuck in traffic on a Friday, and the “Express Lane” is closed to all traffic. I’ve never understood why it wouldn’t be open at all times. Isn’t it better to collect two or three dollars, than nothing at all?
Given the budget constraints faced by state government, you’d think they’d welcome any other solutions that could help with the situation.
Given what happened to the Treadshare app, it looks like Colorado isn’t thinking outside the box.
And they making it damned hard for others to do so as well.