Escape I-70 Ski Winter Park, CO

Sno at Mary Jane Resort

I-70 heading back down to Denver on a Sunday evening.  Nothing can be more infuriating.  The highway problem is starting to get a lot of attention as this is the lifeblood of the Colorado ski resorts and brings a lot of cash rolling into Colorado.

Here is what Ski Magazine columnist Tom Winter has to say about the state of pesky I-70:

This week, the powers that be will meet to discuss the state of Colorado’s Interstate 70. The highway, according to the “experts” has become too crowded, and they need to “widen it”. As a frequent traveler on the highway, this got my dander up. So in the spirit of democracy, I rattled off a ranting screed to the Colorado Department of Transportation about the utter foolishness of spending billions of dollars to widen a highway that is plenty wide enough with one exception: the road can’t handle Colorado’s skier traffic on the weekends. As I don’t drive on the highway on weekends (because of this very fact) my point was: screw the weekend warrior, let them rot in the traffic of their own making or learn how to carpool.

Living in Winter Park, CO and very rarely needing to travel I-70 during the busy traffic times I agree.  The road is plenty wide and adding a little bit here and a little bit there will not solve the traffic problem for more than a few years.  Rail, rail, rail is the way to go.  With rail service coming shortly from DIA to Union Station this puts Winter Park, only a new version of the ski train away, from being the only North American Ski Resort that is connected to an International Airport.  Yes, the old ski train was not the most efficient or effective means of getting up here to Winter Park and Mary Jane but  it did move people up here.  With some investment the ski train through the old Moffat Tunnel or a new train up the I-70 corridor will continue to make Colorado the premier ski destination in the United States.  A new train up the corridor will be a long time and money from being completed especially with all the politics that will get involved.  There is a good chance it may never happen considering all the obstacles that it would have to overcome.  A new train through the Moffat Tunnel would be a a walk in the park comparatively.  This solution would only help WInter Park/Mary Jane Resort, Solvista and maybe Steamboat Spring (with a track extension).

So this brings me to my point of what to do now to deal with the traffic.  First of all spend the least amount of time on I-70 and get off at Exit 232 and head over Berthoud Pass and ski Winter Park.  Next is stay the night in Winter Park or Fraser, with Winter Park Lodging Company, and drive the roads when the Front Range weekend warriors are back at home getting ready to hit their 8AM jobs on Monday morning.  Lastly ski the weekdays if at all possible.  The snow is better , the crowds less and of you can rent a place to stay the prices cheaper.

Here is how Ski Magazine columnist Tom Winter end his I-70 rant:

Unfortunately the ideas that the Colorado Department of Transportation is throwing out to solve the weekend congestion are shortsighted and mostly involve more pavement. And we’ve seen how the “solution” of more pavement has worked out for Los Angeles.

My advice to those who ski Colorado and those who run the ski resorts is to settle for nothing less than a long-term solution.

And, for anyone who has landed in Zurich or any other Swiss airport and then seamlessly transferred from the plane to the train to a ski area, the long-term solution is expensively evident. Given that Colorado’s ridiculously cheap season passes aren’t going away soon, the only way to ensure the state continues to be a destination for out of state skiers is to develop rail links from Denver International Airport through the mountains. Yes, it will be expensive. Yes, it will take years. But ultimately, the entire state will benefit. Until then I’ll be doing my skiing on weekdays, and I suggest you to do the same.

I completely agree.  More roads are merely a bandaid, what is needed is a long term solution and that solution appears to be high speed rail.  Or in the mean time ski Winter Park Resort on a Tuesday.

October 22nd, 2010

Posted In: Skiing, Transportation

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