Adding bore to Twin Tunnels moves problem to Evergreen
I’m not sure how attentive Evergreen residents have been about what’s going on with the I-70 mountain corridor, but it looks like they’ll be suffering some serious consequences within the next couple of years if CDOT follows through on its plans to widen the eastbound Twin Tunnel bore near Idaho Springs.
CDOT’s draft environmental impact statement for the mountain corridor, made public in 2000, identifies Chief Hosa to the Lookout Mountain interchange as a significant problem area, already experiencing substantial slowdowns on summer Sundays due to slow-moving vehicles negotiating the steep downhill grades and winding curves. In fact, CDOT ominously predicted this area would fail to meet highway capacity needs by the year 2005.
Although CDOT was wrong, it seems the only reason its predictions haven’t come true is because the Twin Tunnels serve as somewhat of a “safety valve,” regulating the flow of vehicles into the Chief Hosa/Lookout Mountain area and preventing the congestion from becoming unmanageable.
However, if the eastbound Twin Tunnel bore gets widened, a substantial number of additional vehicles will be unleashed into the area, and the congestion will become much more severe, backing up for miles and actually fulfilling the predictions CDOT made back in 2000.
Since the congestion will be due to steep downhill grades and winding curves, mitigating the problem will be very expensive, probably requiring substantially more than simply adding a single new lane. And as cash-strapped as CDOT is, how long do you think it will be before it gets around to fixing the problem? Years? Decades?
And if you want to know how bad the problem will be, look at the eastbound summer Sunday afternoon congestion that backs up on I-70 west of Georgetown on a section of highway that’s not nearly as steep, nor as winding, as the Chief Hosa/ Lookout Mountain area.
Seems to me the Twin Tunnels project won’t do much to improve travel times back to Denver. Instead, it will simply transfer congestion from Clear Creek County into another area in Jefferson County that will now negatively impact Evergreen residents. I’m wondering if that’s productive, or fair.
Amazingly enough, the Twin Tunnels project is strongly supported by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Although that’s probably because he doesn’t know any better, it also might make you think he’s got something against Jefferson County. We should find out which one it is.