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Old 01-26-2008, 12:45 PM
 
Location: Camelot
353 posts, read 1,628,144 times
Reputation: 244

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Quote:
Originally Posted by oberon View Post
What do you call a highway? Not a 100% subsidy, even though it's paid for entirely by taxpayers, whereas users always pay a fare to ride a train? How about the wear and tear on your car as you sit idle waiting for the traffic to clear? Not a subsidy, even though it's paid out of your pocket? How about the pollution caused by everyone using cars to get out there? Not a subsidy, even though you'll pay for that through medical bills (or perhaps more directly, health insurance premiums)?

How are you going to expand I-70 without causing even more inconvenience to people trying to go skiing, for the 15 years CDOT says it will take to expand the highway just to 3 lanes each direction from Floyd Hill to Vail? Do you think building a train would be subject to the same amount of inconvenience? Considering it wouldn't have to be built on the same level or even on the same kind of terrain...

How is it efficient to use cars that carry 1/10th the number of people as an equivalent length train? Especially considering each car has a driver whereas the train has 1 driver for all of its passengers (or maybe even none!), has a larger & thus more efficient engine, and can use electricity, which can derive its energy from any source rather than just oil.

Most of the I-70 traffic is caused by Front Range residents, not by people flying in to ski.. so who's really benefiting from a train being built to the mountains? How many people do anything other than drive straight to the resort, then drive straight home? Maybe they'll go to another resort on the same day, which, surprise surprise, would have a stop on the transit system. My apres-ski, if any, is almost always at the resort. What convenience, then, is having a car out there?

I agree with MFBE... at the very least, in the short-medium term, regular bus service should be offered to the mountains (perhaps subsidized by the toll you're talking about). However, I don't think it will be an attractive alternative unless it has its own right of way.
Look, I never said a train was a bad idea, I just think most people have prejudices against using any mass transit system. Furthermore I don't want the money to build and maintain the train to come out of a tax assessed on the entire state. The train is admittedly expensive, estimates in the billions with a "b". The train will, for the most part, be accommodating skiers. The train derives it's energy from fossil fuels even if it runs off of (a lot of) electricity. If we think a train is the end all solution to the I-70 problems then let it be built and make skiers pay for it with fares (per person) that reflect the real cost of the train and a timely pay-off of the loans needed to build and maintain it. I know why that won't happen! It will cost skiers a heck of a lot more money to take a train if Colorado doesn't pay for it than it would to drive up there and be stuck in slow traffic. Perhaps the ski resorts should front the cash to build the train to get their customers there to more quickly spend their money. That will result in more money out of skier's pockets. Just because the ski industry wants to grow and people in the area want to go skiing an excessive tax expenditure paid for by every citizen in Colorado is not justified. Period. The government subsidizing any industry is not the answer. The skiers are causing havoc on I-70, the skiers should pay for the solution, not the state.
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Old 01-26-2008, 01:28 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 27,712,797 times
Reputation: 9236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikieo415 View Post
Look, I never said a train was a bad idea, I just think most people have prejudices against using any mass transit system. Furthermore I don't want the money to build and maintain the train to come out of a tax assessed on the entire state. The train is admittedly expensive, estimates in the billions with a "b". The train will, for the most part, be accommodating skiers. The train derives it's energy from fossil fuels even if it runs off of (a lot of) electricity. If we think a train is the end all solution to the I-70 problems then let it be built and make skiers pay for it with fares (per person) that reflect the real cost of the train and a timely pay-off of the loans needed to build and maintain it. I know why that won't happen! It will cost skiers a heck of a lot more money to take a train if Colorado doesn't pay for it than it would to drive up there and be stuck in slow traffic. Perhaps the ski resorts should front the cash to build the train to get their customers there to more quickly spend their money. That will result in more money out of skier's pockets. Just because the ski industry wants to grow and people in the area want to go skiing an excessive tax expenditure paid for by every citizen in Colorado is not justified. Period. The government subsidizing any industry is not the answer. The skiers are causing havoc on I-70, the skiers should pay for the solution, not the state.
I agree with most of this--with one more piece: the skiers should be the ones paying for the highway and its expansion, too. What's good for the goose should be good for the gander. The ski areas have been subsidized seventeen ways from Sunday, from the roads to serve them, to the environmental impacts on public lands that the areas and their associated private development cause, to the "fair-haired boy" treatment they get on taxation and promotional considerations. All so people have a "neat" place to go goof off. I think soon it will be a moot point. I don't think the majority of people in this country will be able to afford that kind of discretionary spending for much longer. Those days are about over.
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:21 PM
 
2,755 posts, read 12,328,636 times
Reputation: 1498
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikieo415 View Post
The cost of a massive mass transit system to the mountains should not be absorbed and funded by Colorado tax payers. I don't buy the idea that we should subsidize a more convenient path for skiers to quickly get to their destinations. I would propose tolling the interstate west of Golden at a reasonable rate to expand the lanes and perhaps add double decker bridges and tunnels to alleviate traffic. Sure, a train would be nice for people arriving at DIA as an express trip to the resorts but I don't think people in this area want to be inconvenienced by leaving their cars at home. People who contribute to the problem should contribute to the solution. If the government is going to shell out *billions* of dollars to fix traffic then it needs to see a return on the investment. I-70 with a higher capacity will profoundly contribute more money to Colorado's economy by allowing more travelers to cross the state rather than a train that will pamper skiers in the winter.
You've expressed well the sentiment propagated by the independence institute: that it's fine to subsidize highways but not acceptable to subsidize transit. Also, the idea that highways benefit everyone but transit only the transit-dependent.

The one extra lane on I-70, to be built at the cost of $4 billion dollars, is not going to be a long-term solution. A temporary fix, at best, at the cost of many years of construction on the highway. So, the $4 billion buys you five years of T-REX style construction slowdowns, worse than anything we have today, followed by a brief period of less traffic before casual skiiers eat up that extra capacity so we're right back where we started. Not a solution.

Transit, however, promises a real solution -- one that can get the skiiers and tourists up and down the mountain in a guaranteed amount of time, with scalability, so more passengers can be accommodated by adding more train cars to the trains.

As for Jazzlover's point about the difficulty of tunneling along the I-70 route well, I guess that's why the rail option also costs in the billions to implement, but at least after spending the billions you have a solution that will continue to work for the long term. The third lane option, on the other hand, may not improve travel times at all, as the traffic will just follow the capacity.
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Earth
1,471 posts, read 3,907,123 times
Reputation: 908
Here's a great idea that will never happen: route semi trucks North to I-80 and send them across WY instead of through the I-70 corridor...i.e. the trucks that aren't making delivery stops along the way, which is probably 90% of 'em. How many times is a jam or accident the result of people trying to get around a slow moving semi chugging up or down the hills...

I-70 is a great example of our past leaders' complete lack of foresight & planning...then again who expected the swarming masses we have now? And it's not just ski season that causes it...I've sat on that road plenty of times in every season. Something's got to give...because it's never going to get any better. Add a surcharge to ski tickets or something...after all it's the resorts who benefit the most and thus cause the problem in the first place...they should collectively start taking a little bit of those nice fat profits and putting them back toward a highway improvement fund or something.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 01-26-2008 at 03:53 PM..
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Old 01-26-2008, 02:54 PM
 
23,649 posts, read 43,740,787 times
Reputation: 25008
Quote:
Originally Posted by oberon View Post
....I agree with MFBE... at the very least, in the short-medium term, regular bus service should be offered to the mountains (perhaps subsidized by the toll you're talking about). However, I don't think it will be an attractive alternative unless it has its own right of way.
Thank you. I was going to go back in and edit my post to add that a skier tax / toll should be implemented for private auto's, while resort operated buses would not be charged the toll. The art of political compromise leads towards offering some of the collected tolls going to partially cover bus service, but most tolls would go to the rail system. Charging a toll to heavy trucks would move some of them up to I-80, otherwise they pay. The toll is just a method to incentivize buses and carpools, while funding a rail solution that will eventually be netted into the RTD system, the sort of truly regional solution needed. General state/federal spending would also be required, but seems appropriate.

I don't like paying for both a near term highway lane fix and a rail solution, that would be solving it twice, and if the past is repeated, once more lanes are added, the oil/car/road lobby will claim that no rail solution is needed, so scrap those ideas - and build more highways with the savings. No.
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Old 01-26-2008, 03:11 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 27,712,797 times
Reputation: 9236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shuffler View Post
Here's a great idea that will never happen: route semi trucks North to I-80 and send them across WY instead of through the I-70 corridor...i.e. the trucks that aren't making delivery stops along the way, which is probably 90% of 'em. How many times is a jam or accident the result of people trying to get around a slow moving semi chugging up or down the hills...
Better yet, put all of those trucks on intermodal trains and get 'em off of the highways, period. $5-$6 fuel should do that, anyway. Oh, and yeah, there's a rail corridor across central Colorado sitting in mothballs RIGHT NOW that could serve that purpose. Doing that might actually make some environmental sense, and make some economic sense, too--if the playing field between the private railroads and the publicly subsidized highways was leveled. Of course, the highway/trucking/petroleum lobby would have a conniption fit about it, and their lackey politicians would quiver in their Gucci's, so it'll probably never happen.

FACTOID: One average-size intermodal train takes approximately 125-160 semis off of the highway. The line currently idle across central Colorado was capable of handling approximately 20-30 trains per day when it was shut down in 1997. The train also uses between 25% to 33% LESS FUEL than all of those trucks. Do the math . . .

Last edited by jazzlover; 01-26-2008 at 03:22 PM..
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Old 01-26-2008, 03:51 PM
 
23,649 posts, read 43,740,787 times
Reputation: 25008
JazzLover, you've mentioned this line in the past, but as a newbie here I'm not sure of the route. Would you elaborate as to the route and main towns?
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Old 01-26-2008, 04:13 PM
 
Location: Westminster, CO
271 posts, read 1,316,153 times
Reputation: 91
I also am unsure of the route jazzlover refers to. The only continuous route across central Colorado I know about is the Union Pacific (formerly Denver & Rio Grande Western) line that's shared with the Ski Train and Amtrak's California Zephyr, which goes through Winter Park, Granby, Kremmling, Glenwood Springs, and Grand Junction. If that's the case, it should be noted this route is still very heavily trafficked by freight trains.. and expanding use of it would require another 6-mile bore next to the existing one at Moffatt Tunnel.

That said, banning trucks from I-70 for certain periods of time might be a relatively useful short-term solution. But there could be problems with that, e.g. the federal government might step in if enough interstate businesses complain (since they fronted much of the money needed to build the highway).
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Old 01-26-2008, 05:14 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 27,712,797 times
Reputation: 9236
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
JazzLover, you've mentioned this line in the past, but as a newbie here I'm not sure of the route. Would you elaborate as to the route and main towns?
UP (former D&RGW line) west from Pueblo, through Salida, over Tennessee Pass, joining the line from Denver west through the Moffat Tunnel at Dotsero. Goes through Florence, Canon City, Salida, Buena Vista, Malta (near Leadville), Minturn (7 miles from Vail), Avon, Edwards, Wolcott, Eagle, Gypsum, and Dotsero. Shut down in 1997. Portion from Pueblo to Parkdale (west of the Royal Gorge) operated by a short line operator. UP operates local freight from Dotsero to Gypsum, stores cars as far east as Minturn. Royal Gorge tourist train runs on the line from Canon City to Parkdale. Union Pacific still dispatches the trains on the route from its dispatch center in Omaha.

Here's photo of a freight train on the route in 1995, near Texas Creek in the Arkansas River canyon:
Click image for larger version

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Old 01-28-2008, 11:05 PM
 
Location: Denver
1,082 posts, read 4,493,534 times
Reputation: 554
yes, Colorado and the nation have favored highways since the liability crisis over the tracks. There are still route opportunities all over the state, which would also spread economic opportunity outside denver, but they are dwindling. Alamosa just divided their downtown into two one-way thruways and some places are selling off the train rights of way. As for who pays, well we pay for all the pavement whether we support it or not, and the people of Clear Creek County have to deal with all the auto accidents and truck spills one way or the other. A "sacrifice zone"? I think a high fare tollway sounds a lot better.
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