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Let Those Who Receive The Benefits Pay The Costs

IP-13-99 (September 1999)
Author: Stephen R. Mueller, P.E. and Dennis Polhill, P.E

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Executive Summary

I-25 between Broadway Street and Lincoln Avenue is the most congested highway in Colorado. Nearly all of Denver’s 2,3 million people are impacted by the traffic on this relatively small 16 mile stretch of freeway. Traveling the highway sometimes takes more that an hour during peak periods. Regular commuters are frustrated, and the “Mile High Salute” is often performed on I-25 with a single finger. Visitors to Denver have flashbacks of their travels on other parking-lot-like freeways in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New Jersey. Rural residents are afraid to visit simply because of the heavy traffic. Even motorists who try to avoid the freeways are faced with overcrowded arterial streets flooded by like-minded hoards. Everyone who drives in and through Denver knows that something has to be done with I-25.

Exactly what to do with I-25, however, is a political issue of great proportion. This Single issue probably decided the campaign for Governor in 1998. Candidate Bill Owens Said that more highways lanes must be built. Owens’ statement made front-page headlines. It came late in the campaign, when polls indicated an extremely close race. Gail Schoettler, the Democratic candidate, responded that “only light highways”, however, was a message that did nor interest the public, and Owens ended up winning by a slim majority. I-25 was the hottest issue of the entire statewide campaign!

The fix, however, had been shaped by governmental regulatory processes for a number of years– ling before if heated up in the public’s mind during the 1998 Colorado Governor’s race. Coloradoans are pawns in this process. The western desire for personal freedom is being infringed by federal environmental regulations designed for seaboard urban areas of vasily greater and denser human populations. Current federal legislation has linked automobile travel to air pollution and land use regulation — despite massive success at cleaning up the internal combustion engine, and making more fuel efficient — but that is exactly the way the environmental laws currently read. One only needs to walk…

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