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A rare quiet time on an urban highway.
A rare quiet time on an urban highway.
Colorado Department of Transportation

Reader: Building Adequate Highways Is Not Easy or Cheap

Even before the pre-Thanksgiving snowfall hit, before Interstate 70 was closed both ways on the day after Thanksgiving because of rockslides, there had been questions about whether Colorado's transportation system could handle this state's growing population.

According to recent U.S. Census figures, by July 2018, the state's population had grown to 5,695,564 from 5,029,126 in 2010. That's the equivalent of the state adding another Denver over the last decade. The growth has put pressure on the state's infrastructure, particularly roads. Can Colorado's transportation system keep up?

Readers have plenty of opinions. Insists Ronald:

No, it cannot!

We drive to Thornton from Longmont each Monday to attend a church service. What used to take ~30 minutes can now take nearly an hour. We have to leave no later than 5:45 to make a 7 p.m. service. Once we get beyond highway 52, traffic is bumper to bumper and is usually down to about 45 mph vs. the posted 75. While on our "short" trip, we like to see where people are from, and each month it seems we see more and more out-of-state plates.

It is no different driving around Longmont. It is amazing the traffic on Main, Hover, Highway 66 and Airport Road most any time of the day. When it reaches 4 p.m., you can plan on adding 15 to 20 minutes for any trip more than 5 miles. We see more and more out-of-state plates driving around our relatively small town, especially from California and the Northeast.

Not only is this adding to the road problem and home prices, but the larger out-of-state migration has definitely had an impact on the political landscape in Colorado. Unfortunately, people who are moving here too often are bringing their politics from liberal states that are starting to make the state look more like California vs. Colorado. Just what is needed, another bankrupt state with high taxes.

Replies Joe: 

The same thing that attracts people to this state creates some of our major traffic problems. Building adequate highways through the mountains is not easy or cheap. Add bad weather, and it's a perfect storm. 

Adds Chris: 

CDOT is absolutely worthless. Guarantee next time we get a dusting of snow, the plows will be out in force. Four-plus inches, they'll be nowhere to be seen. Denver is so ass out I'm ready to leave! And I'm a native.

Notes Sonia:

Crazy! Sad and upsetting. Cities' administrators aren’t doing a good job at all!

Says Steve: 

In recent years, our interstate highways, especially along the Front Range from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins, have become nearly unusable due to crowding. The high level of immigration, legal and illegal, is largely responsible.

One thing for sure, the solution(s) will not be cheap. 

Responds Judith: 

Okay, this might be too simple. How about not issuing any more building permits? People can move to surrounding states and take up the slack there. They have overbuilt Denver metro and Colorado Springs as well. Greedy, greedy, greedy.

Officials won't allow it. They will destroy Colorado before they stop this madness. 

And then there's this from Prophet Zarquon:

Roads don't handle growth. As density increases, traffic inevitably tends toward gridlock. As traffic reaches levels of inconvenience that push more and more people out of cars, new drivers continue to appear; even adding transport has not eliminated traffic anywhere.

Traffic gets bad and it stays bad. As long as growth continues, any lanes vacated by one person will be opportunistically filled by 1.1 or more others. Like it or not, despite any efforts to widen roads or build transit systems, drivers will experience ever worsening traffic so long as the number of commuters continues to increase.

There is actually one highly effective way to reduce traffic: Reduce commuting.

Commuting was definitely reduced by the snowfall this past week, which ranged from seven inches to thirty in municipalities along the Front Range. And while the Colorado Department of Transportation had all hands on deck to clear the highways, the rocks along I-70 presented an unexpected challenge.

In the metro area, some towns were quick to plow. But other municipalities remained an obstacle course of ruts, inspiring more complaints and comments from readers.

What do you think about Colorado's growth? The state of this state's roads...even on days without snow? Post a comment or email your thoughts to editorial@westword.com.

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