Despite years of construction of new express lanes and other improvements, I-70 continues to be a hindrance to visitors. Numerous closures result from seemingly average snowstorms. And summer isn’t much better on weekends and holidays. Every year, new record traffic counts are set at the Eisenhower Tunnel and it’s a rare day that you don’t find a slow-down or stoppage somewhere between Denver and Summit County. Colorado neglected road maintenance for decades because of tax cuts and it really caught up with us.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has found that it costs our mountain communities $800,000 PER HOUR when the road is closed. Yet years of studies by the State have only come up with one solution: more lanes.
Support for a rail system has had its ups and downs, but pressure for one is building from local governments and citizens. Tax cutting naysayers are still standing in the doorway, however. Those European solutions don’t work for America, you know. Eventually, the cost of lost revenue will outweigh the cost of building a more efficient transportation system and perhaps then we’ll get some action.
In the mean time, people are finding more immediate ways to cope with the traffic problem. An increasing number of Front Range residents are buying property in Summit County just for a place to stay on Friday and Sunday nights and so avoid the skier rush Saturday mornings and Sunday nights. Many of these buyers are younger folks looking for low cost properties just to crash in over night. They often move up to more expensive property after a few years and keep the first place as a rental.
In the early days of our real estate market, weekenders were the market. Basic condominiums and homes with small kitchens and baths and often having no laundry facilities or garages were built to accommodate them.
Over time, they were replaced by semi-permanent second home owners who wanted larger places where they could spend weeks or months. The older, smaller units fell out of favor for a while and became long-term rentals or affordable housing for local residents.
But the Front Range market that low-end properties were originally built to serve is coming back again. And that demand is causing the “low end” to get really expensive. Who ever thought that a one bedroom Dillon Valley East would be worth $180,000?
As long as people keep moving to Colorado at this rate, traffic will get worse and housing prices will increase. Even a fancy Swiss-style rail system won’t stop that.