Vail Mayor Andy Daly’s youngest son is ski patrolling in France this ski season and he and his wife went over to visit. On their way home they flew the 5,000 miles direct from Frankfurt to Denver on Lufthansa in nine hours. But because of gridlocked Interstate 70 traffic, it took them more than seven hours to drive the 120 miles from Denver International Airport to Vail.
Reached by phone at DIA last week, where he was waiting to catch a plane to Salt Lake City for a town fact-finding trip to rival ski town Park City, Daly said flat-out, “It was a terrible year” for I-70 traffic and closures.
It’s only about a six-hour drive from Vail to the ski resorts of Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, where the ski areas are just a little over a half-hour drive from Salt Lake City, but drive times between Vail and Denver this past ski season sometimes topped nine hours because of closures on Vail Pass, at the Eisenhower Tunnel and other problem stretches between Georgetown and Idaho Springs.
“I think that’s going to begin to hurt Colorado as people look to places that have a great lifestyle, and part of that lifestyle is easy access to recreation,” Daly said. “We’ve got some vulnerability, and if we don’t address I-70, it’s going to be just another competitive disadvantage for Colorado as it tries to compete with the likes of Utah.”
Bottleneck hurting whole state
Daly a member of the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame, is a longtime ski resort executive and developer who has run resorts from Copper Mountain to Vail. He now co-owns Powderhorn ski area near Grand Junction, and he says the I-70 bottleneck is hurting the state’s entire ski industry.
A future Colorado Olympic bid might provide the funds for a long-term fix along the I-70 corridor, Daly says, but the state can’t wait till 2026, 2030 or beyond to start finding solutions. Other small resort operators agree.
“[The Olympics] may be a way to get that high-speed rail or whatever it is on I-70 if you have to move Olympic crowds back and forth, because you definitely can’t do it on our roads the way... read the rest of the story at RealVail.com