Colorado Ski Traffic, an Uphill Battle

Adrian Dolatschko | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Colorado I70, A Necessary Evil to Reach the Snow Image: SnoCountry

Traveling to Ski Areas is a necessary evil for those who don’t live locally. Specifically, in Colorado, the drive on I70 is often especially arduous. Massive crowds, hours of gridlocked traffic, all for the sake of time on the snow.

In recent years, a population boom in the larger Denver area has aggravated already existing issues. Since most Colorado ski areas are nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains, I70 is an important link to the mountains.

Gridlocked Colorado I70 on a Winter Morning Image: Unofficial Networks

For many people, the traffic has proven enough of an issue that they resort to backcountry skiing or long backroads. According to Denver resident Cole Capsalis,

“There was more time in the car than skiing.”

Unfortunately, the sacrifice of an extended drive to the mountain is enough to change many Weekend Warrior’s perspectives on making the trip. Ultimately, this takes away a lot from the local ski industry.

Resentment for I70 is also prompted by a bleak outlook for the future. Over time, the transportation department has taken measures to minimize traffic. Examples are a toll lane, conditions app, wider tunnels, and better lighting/led message systems. Yet traffic is still worsening. Luckily, roadway refinements have drastically lowered the number of accidents in recent years.

Natural Hazards Make Maintenance and Construction Tough on I70, 2010 Rockslide Pictured, Image: Colorado Dep. of Transportation

The largest challenge to solving the I70 issue is that major updates are very costly. According to a study by the transport department in 2014, a Highspeed rail would cost between $11 and $32 billion. Given that the department budget is usually $1.4 billion of which 70 percent goes to road maintenance, there aren’t many funds left for major construction. In addition, I70 is naturally costly to maintain due to the many mountain hazards.

Since Colorado doesn’t fund the transportation budget from the state sales tax and the gas tax is also low, there are few sources of income. 

In conclusion, the traffic issues on I70 are worsening. To make matters worse, Colorado does not currently have sufficient funding to change the problem. Therefore, Weekend Warriors will continue to have to battle the crowds. The only hopes of beating the traffic are carpooling, checking conditions, and driving at strategic times.

More information is available at goi70

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3 thoughts on “Colorado Ski Traffic, an Uphill Battle

  1. Why don’t you propose a legitimate solution instead of continually pointing out the problem…we all know it’s a problem. I’m probably typing this out while I’m stuck in I-70 traffic.

  2. I dont get your anti Colorado angle. Glenwood Springs is 160 miles away and way past all the I-70 ski areas. Miles seems to ski Snowbird so he know that it takes 1 1/2 hours to get up there normally. I just dont get it. At least Unofficial Networks are unapologetic Tahoe people but I am not sure what you guys are supposed to be. Fresh out of New Hampshire? Just moved from Michigan?

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