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Report: No gains in U.S. airline fuel efficiency

Industry foot-dragging continues,; lawsuits pending

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. airlines aren’t making much progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Despite some improvement by individual airlines, the analysis showed there was  no net improvement in the fuel efficiency of U.S. domestic operations from 2012 to 2013.

The nonprofit organization also calculated that two of the most fuel efficient carriers  — Alaska and Spirit — had the highest operating profit margins in 2013. Meanwhile less-efficient carriers like Allegiant made profits while using old, polluting and less efficient aircraft. The study findings contradict airline industry arguments that fuel costs automatically push airlines to maximize efficiency. Continue reading

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Environment: Cold weather road ecology institute seeks alternatives to chemical road de-icers

This is what we like to see!

Clearing the roads in Frisco, Colorado.

A little bit of salt on your french fries is fine; a lot of salt on the road kills trees and fish

Staff Report

FRISCO — Highway engineers and scientists know that that massive use of chemical road de-icers has significant environmental impacts. Salt and the various derivatives used to keep roadways open kills trees and degrades water quality.

Just last year, the EPA found salt building up in groundwater near highways in the eastern U.S. Across the country, the U.S. spends $2.3 billion each year on the removal of highway snow and ice plus another $5 billion to mitigate the hidden costs associated with the process.

The hidden costs include long-term impacts of salt, sand and chemical deicers on the natural environment and road infrastructure as well as short-term impacts on semi-trailer trucks and other vehicles from rust and corrosion. Continue reading

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

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