WASHINGTON — A bill has been introduced to require the U.S. Department of Transportation to study viable local solutions to offset Interstate 70 weather-related closures and fund those solutions when they are determined.
Because of natural hazards, I-70 in parts of Colorado experiences significant closures that last more than one week, three-four times a decade, according to Boebert.
The bill gives recommendations for significant improvements and potential alternatives necessary to offset extended closures associated with I-70, including:
- At least one alternative that includes the possibility of improving Catherine’s Store Road, as proposed by Garfield County, Colorado.
- At least one alternative that includes the possibility of improving the six spot locations to existing roads, as proposed by Eagle County, Colorado.
- At least one alternative that includes the possibility of improving an existing road down Cottonwood Creek, as proposed by Eagle County stakeholders and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
- At least one alternative that includes the possibility of improving I-70 system resilience and reducing risks from nearby hazards.
“Living in Silt, I experience the frustration first-hand when I-70 closes,” Boebert said. “Left with no viable alternatives, travelers, truckers and workers are forced to either change their plans, take a five-plus hour detour, or travel treacherous dirt roads to get where they are going. The I-70 Detour Act is a locally driven solution to ensure commerce, tourism and the West Slope don’t come to a screeching halt the next time a natural disaster or major traffic accident closes down I-70 for an extended period of time. The time is now, and we can’t squander another 20 years talking about how we need to fix I-70.”
Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Diane Schwenke said, “We simply cannot afford to wait for the next disruption to occur. Something has to be done.”
Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky stated, “We appreciate and support the Congresswoman’s bill that focusses much needed attention on this important local, regional, and national issue. Specifically, we see the need and importance to immediately fund the already identified local improvements to Garfield and Eagle County roads that serve as an alternative route during a closure as well as to direct significant funding to add resiliency and mitigation to the hazardous sections of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon as a dual approach.”
Joseph Price has been a journalist for almost two decades. He began in community media in 2005 and has since worked at media outlets in Virginia and Arkansas. He is also a commercial drone pilot and video editor. He hosts a weekly community radio show focused on goth, metal and industrial music that airs Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. at www.kuhsradio.org.