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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – How would you like to avoid the traffic nightmare of Interstate 70 as you head to and from the mountains each weekend?
Jefferson County wants to hear from you on a proposed solution to ease congestion on the I-70 mountain corridor. The proposal? A high-speed rail that would take people from Denver International Airport all the way to Eagle County Regional Airport – a 155-mile ride – through the I-70 mountain corridor and the Denver metro area region.
A study is now being conducted by Development Research Partners to see what economic impacts a high-speed rail system would create around the state.
Data from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) shows that a high-speed rail would save travelers between 35 to 45 minutes “under unobstructed traffic conditions,” between Eagle County and DIA.
It also shows that it could potentially remove a little more than 2 million vehicles that pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel, as ridership estimates from 2017 suggest.
The survey, which you can take here, is asking residents to think about the influence I-70 traffic conditions have on any of your travel plans, “rather than considering any other economic or social conditions."
Jefferson County officials said they do not yet have "an exact technology for such a sytem," but said it could include magnetic levitation vehicles "or other high-speed technology options."
Talk of a high-speed transit isn't new for Colorado. The "I-70 Coalition", a group of city, counties and businesses, have discussed it as an option to alleviate traffic along the I-70 mountain corridor for years. The study found the technology was feasible, but the funding was not.
CDOT completed a feasibility study in 2012 that found a high-speed train running from the C-470, I-70 interchange would:
- Take 73 minutes
- Transport between 4.6 to 6.2 million annual riders
- Cost between $60 to $76 million a year.
The newest survey and study are looking at a route from DIA to Eagle County Airport. A Record of Decision was issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and CDOT in June of 2011. In it, an analysis determined highway improvements must be done in conjunction with high-speed mass transit. One without the other will not suffice; both are needed to meet the long-term needs of this critical corridor.
Denver7's Jackie Crea contributed to this report.