Summit County: Should hazmat trucks use I-70?

Installation of fire suppression system in the Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels could spur discussion on hazmat routing

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Hazmat routes are ubiquitous along Colorado’s major highways.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With $25 million in funding secured for a long-sought fire suppression system in the I-70 Eisenhower-Johnson Tunnels, a debate over hazmat routing through Summit County could heat up again. In a first step, CDOT will start a process to update the 1980s-era rules for the tunnel, potentially opening the door to a petition process that could result in changes to the hazmat route.

Currently, gasoline tankers and nearly all other hazardous materials are routed via U.S. Highway 6 over windy Loveland Pass, where tankers frequently roll over and spill fuel. Most truckers would prefer to haul their flammable, toxic and explosive materials through the tunnel and down I-70 to save time and money, but local emergency responders aren’t sure if the change makes sense from a public safety standpoint.

“This is going to require some very careful evaluation,” said Summit County emergency services director Joel Cochran, acknowledging that there have already been some behind-the-scenes discussions among some stakeholders. Continue reading

Colorado ramps up for another big I-70 project

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CDOT planning major highway improvements in 2014.

Peak-period shoulder toll lane to ease eastbound congestion; CDOT hopes to finish the work by 2015

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — As soon as they finish with the current I-70 construction around the Twin Tunnel segment, Colorado Department of Transportation engineers will set their sights on another project aimed at easing eastbound traffic congestion on the busy Colorado east-west interstate.

A nine-mile section of peak-period shoulder lanes from Empire Junction to the Twin Tunnels could loosen up Sunday afternoon traffic jams by providing three lanes from the junction all the way back to Denver, said CDOT mountain corridor manager Jim Bemelen.

The estimated cost for improving the shoulders is about $30 million, and funding for the project has been approved as part of a statewide $560 million slate of upgrades under the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program, announced by Gov. John Hickenlooper and CDOT director Don Hunt this week. Continue reading

Colorado: $10 million grant to help fund I-70 tunnel fire suppression system

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The east portal of the Eisenhower and Johnson Memorial tunnels near Loveland Ski Area.

Automated sprinklers could help avert a serious catastrophe

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A $10 million dollar grant will help the Colorado Department of Transportation install a long-sought fire suppression system in the Eisenhower and Johnson Memorial Tunnels along I-70.

Colorado’s congressional delegation was unified last year in seeking support for the grant. All nine members of the state’s elected delegation in Washington signed a Feb. 6 letter asking the Obama administration to dedicate $20 million in the 2013 budget to pay for a fire suppression system. Continue reading

Morning photo: Road trip

“Hope the wind don’t blow me off the road tonight …”        ~Little Feat

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Dogs love road trips, too!

FRISCO — Ahhh, summer road trips. You don’t have to go far, you know. How about trying a new road in your own region, taking a left at that intersection where you always go right, and then see where it takes you. Adventures await beyond the horizon. These images are culled from a 2011 15-state, 5,000 mile marathon through the heartland, along the Mississippi all the way to southwest Florida — and back again through West Texas. Continue reading

Colorado: Major blasting done I-70 Twin Tunnels

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CDOT says major blasting operations are complete at the I-70 Twin Tunnels improvement project.

Project aimed at improving safety and traffic flow between Denver and mountain resorts

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Construction crews have reached a major milestone on a major Interstate 70 improvement project between Colorado’s mountain resorts and Denver, with major blasting operations for a new tunnel bore now complete, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Along with the new bore in the eastbound Twin Tunnel near Idaho Springs, CDOT is also straightening and widening curves in the narrow canyon in hopes of easing congestion and improving safety at one of the tighest choke points along the corridor. Continue reading

New scenic byway proposed for Southern Colorado

New route would trace historic Denver and Rio Grande Railroad

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The northwestern section of the proposed Denver and Rio Grande Railroad scenic byway designation, ending at Durango, in the top left corner.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Combine 2,000-year-old Native American culture with early Spanish explorers, trappers and mountain men, then add in a dash of railroad lore and a sprinkle of mining legends and you have a perfect recipe for a classic American history tale.

One of those stories played out in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, where the Rockies meet the high desert, and where a long-running advocacy effort may pay off with a scenic byway designation for the historic route of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. The goal of the designation is to preserve and promote some of the last surviving remnants of the historic narrow gauge route that was integral to development of the region’s mining, logging and ranching industries. Continue reading

Colorado: State wildlife experts support grassroots push to improve wildlife safety along Highway 9

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Wildlife underpasses could help improve safety along Colorado Highway 9 between Green Mountain Reservoir and Kremmling.

Improvements would reduce costly and deadly vehicle-wildlife collisions

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado wildlife officials say they’re supporting a grassroots drive to raise money for wildlife overpasses and underpasses along Highway 9, near Kremmling. The goal is to reduce the number of vehicle-wildlife collisions on a 10.6-mile stretch of the highway between Green Mountain Reservoir and the Colorado River near Kremmling.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, wildlife collisions in this area have led to nearly 600 vehicular accidents in the last 20 years, including 16 human fatalities and almost 200 injuries. About 35 percent of the collisions were wildlife related. In addition, there have been nearly 450 animals killed — mostly mule deer — in the last eight years. Continue reading

Colorado: Mt. Evans Road opens, fee-free this year

Access advocacy group plans May 25 event to mark the end of the $10 fee

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Exploring the Summit Lake area near the summit of Mt. Evans, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

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The Mt. Evans Scenic Byway. Map courtesy CDOT.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — There aren’t too many places in the world where you can drive up to the summit of a 14,000-foot peak, but one of them is right here in Colorado, where Mt. Evans road rises to the crest of the Rocky Mountains just a short way west of Denver.

And this summer, for the first time since 1997, visitors will be able to make the drive for free, thanks to the tireless work of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, a group that has been battling the U.S. Forest Service over what it says are illegal fees for access to public lands. Continue reading

Global tourism revenues set record in 2012

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Tourists from Asia exploring Hallstatt, Austria.

Travel and tourism a key driver in world economy

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The global tourism economy hummed along at a record pace in 2012, growing by 4 percent and generating a total of $1.3 trillion when international passenger transit revenues are included in the equation.

“It is encouraging to see that the growth in international tourist arrivals was equalled by a comparable increase in spending in spite of continued economic challenges,” said United Nations World Tourism Organization secretary-general Taleb Rifai. “Considering that tourism is a key export for many economies around the world, this result is good news as it provides foreign reserves to destinations, and contributes to job creation in tourism as well as in related economic sectors,” he added.

By regions, the Americas recorded the largest increase in receipts, plus 7 percent, followed by Asia and the Pacific ( plus 6 percent), Africa ( plus 5 percent) and Europe (plus 2 percent). Receipts in the Middle East were down about 2 percent but improving compared to the double-digit decline recorded in 2011. Continue reading

Colorado: More money for transit?

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Money previously earmarked for road and bridge construction can now be used to enhance alternative transit.

New law gives communities more leeway with spending Highway User Tax monies on transit projects

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Alternative transit in Colorado could get a funding boost this year, after Gov. John Hickenlooper last week signed Senate Bill 13-048 into law.

The measures gives communities new flexibility to spend their share of the $250 million pot of money collected from gas taxes and license plate fees — known as the Highway Users Tax Fund — on bike and pedestrian paths, transit and other projects.  Previously, the money was restricted by law to highway and bridge projects.

“Aurora supported the bill because we wanted the flexibility to address all of our local transportation needs, not just road and street needs,” said Steve Hogan, Aurora Mayor. “Our city wishes to address parking related to Light Rail, bike path and bike lane improvements, and transit needs around the Fitzsimons/Anschutz Campus. These amenities make our city more desirable.” Continue reading

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