2017

CDOT ought to focus on I-25 rather than I-70 through Clear Creek

It is written that it’s never too late to find religion, to drink the Kool-Aid, to swoon and cry out in exultation, “I believe!”  When one is raised Catholic, mea culpa, which translates to “my bad,” is indelibly etched onto one’s psyche.

Having the minimal life that I have, which is to say not having one, I keep giving this I-70 expansion craze way more thought than sanity permits. Color me crazy.

In May 2001, work began on the T-REX project. Its goal was to facilitate traffic flow and ease rush-hour congestion by widening I-25 through the heart of Denver. It’s been a bust, leading one to conclude that adding lanes does nothing to solve traffic woes but, instead, exacerbates them.

But then, maybe not. Maybe former governor Bill Owens and the CDOT brain trust blew by thinking too small. I-25 is underbuilt. Rather than T-REX, they built TP, a toy poodle. They should’ve gone shock and awe with the widening.

CDOT plans to add eight-miles of asphalt from Idaho Springs to Empire Junction as they did in the opposite direction, which, according to them, was the greatest feat accomplished to unsnarl snarly weekenders who don’t think twice about blowing wads of cash to enjoy a tortuous day hobnobbing with thousands of bosom buds in lift lines, but weep, wail, and gnash their teeth because of them making the same decision as their lift-line buddies: Heading back to Denver en masse on a Sunday afternoon.

In life, we sometimes choose wisely, and other times, poorly. It’s the reason the annual Darwin Awards are a hoot. Nothing funnier and sometimes deadlier than human stupidity. CDOT’s mission, however, is to take the fun out of noir humor by rescuing lemmings from their stupidity.

I get it. Ten times a year I throw rationality out the window, don my orange, and lemming-like head to a Broncos game. Getting there is rarely a problem. We Broncos lemmings spread out our arrivals, thereby lessening the crush of vehicles on I-25 and city streets like Federal Boulevard.

The problem we all blithely ignore until it happens is, especially if the game’s a cliffhanger, some 75,000-plus lemmings collectively disembark from Mile High and hit the road en masse.

Last Monday night after the nail-biting Charger game, I-25 was a beast at midnight. Crazy, I thought. You would have thought everyone else would have been considerate enough to wait until I made my escape. But, no! There I was. A nameless number, giving my left calf a workout by working the clutch as I inched along lemming-like with the horde. It wasn’t all bad; it gave me ample opportunity to practice the Golden Rule and to consider the dynamics.

I thought of the tens of thousands of vehicles sitting on I-25 during which we euphemistically call “rush hour.” Six and seven days a week, 12 hours plus a day. Then I thought of home and the report about Denver being at the top of Amazon’s list of cities it’s considering building its next campus and how that will play out in Clear Creek: 50,000 hip, young, spritely millennials going gaga with Lady Gaga over and through our valley to Vail.

Maybe not so bad, but not for a reason one might think.

Think about it. How often does lemming traffic clog the highway from Idaho Springs to Empire Junction that it seriously impedes progress, businesses, or people’s safety and welfare? The answer: zero, nada, not ever. That’s because lemming-clogging happens at best a couple dozen mornings a year and then it’s due to people primarily wanting to recreate, not like in Denver 300-plus days of the year with people going to and returning from work, sporting events, concerts, et alia all hours of the day.

Then, illumination. Mea culpa! Lanes!

CDOT’s head is screwed askew. It has the right solution but for the wrong situation. Before bulldozing Clear Creek, CDOT needs to get busy building more where they’re seriously needed: I-25 through Denver. From TP to T-REX.

That should distract them until the Amazon whiz kids with brains in their heads rather than their rear pockets show up, ask, wonder, and then demand, “Where’s the rail to Vail?

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