I-70 rest stop needs some TLC
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — After an early morning trek along Straight Creek with some volunteers monitoring forest regeneration, I drove back to Frisco via I-70 to avoid the cyclists on the Dam Road. Almost every time I go this way, I make a short stop at the I-70 scenic overlook, just because it offers such a stunning view of the county.
Most locals probably don’t stop there very often, if at all. After all, why would you stop in the middle of a short three mile commute between Frisco and Dillon, unless you’re a photography freak like me?
But I know that, for many visitors and passers-through, this spot is the very first stop they make in the county and we all know about first impressions. So it’s a mystery to me why there is still no garbage receptacle at the rest area — and it’s a mystery to many of the travelers I’ve spoken with there over the years.
I wrote a story about this for the Summit Daily back in 1996 or 1997 early in my stint as an earnest cub reporter, reporting that nobody — not the county, nor CDOT or any of the local towns — wanted to take on the burden of maintaining a trash facility at this spot. It’s Summit County’s little Bermuda Triangle of trash, and it’s kind of sad to see that nothing has changed in all those years.
At best, cleanup depends on a volunteer group that has adopted this stretch of the interstate, or perhaps some intermittent local efforts during county and town cleanup days.
I know this isn’t the biggest issue in Summit County, but I wonder how good it is for tourism if the first stop for many people in the area is essentially an open-air garbage dump. It would be nice to think that I’m exaggerating, but sadly, it’s a persistent and ongoing problem.
I fully understand the argument that people should be responsible for their own trash. It’s completely unacceptable to just dump your refuse or empty your ashtray out of your car, no matter where you are. But the fact is, that concept is not working in this location.
For whatever reason, people expect to find a garbage can at a highway rest stop, and if they don’t, many of them apparently have no qualms about simply leaving their waste behind as they drive on.
Regardless of the right and wrong of who is responsible, it seems logical that the impression people would get is that we don’t care enough locally to keep this area clean by providing receptacles for trash and recyclables. That kind of sets the tone for visitors’ expectations for the rest of their stay in the area.
My solution: Try to transcend and transform peoples’ most base instincts into something positive. I propose making the rest stops into a signpost for Summit County’s efforts toward becoming a zero-waste community.
Yes, it would involve a bit of work to set up and maintain recycling bins and animal-proof waste receptacles, not to mention the required signage to help people navigate to mysteries of recycling. But it seems that, at such a high-profile spot, with so many daily visitors, it would be worth the effort.
What a great place for some community cooperation, with all the towns and the county, CDOT, and maybe even the Forest Service pitching in to making sure the site remains clean.
Heck, I’d probably vote for a Republican for county commissioner if that candidate made a commitment to address this issue.
A couple of more shots from the overlook. In my opinion, a spot like this shouldn’t be an open-air trash pit.