Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Vail to "Bury" Interstate 70?

Burying the interstate through Vail is possible. But the idea has a long way to go before it’s plausible.

“Even in a 50-year window, do I think a $4 to $5 billion in the Vail corridor would pop up on somebody’s radar screen?” said Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler. “I’m not sure why it would.”

Last month, the town released a feasibility study on tunneling Interstate 70 through Vail. The study said it’s possible, but didn’t consider how to pay for the project, whose initial cost estimate is around $3 billion. The study was completed last year but wasn’t released until last month, when council members said they were interested in it.

The Town Council will get a formal presentation on it later this month. Mayor Rod Slifer said he isn’t sure how Vail would find the money in the next two decades to bury the interstate. Slifer said, he’d like to see less costly solutions pursued before Vail looks at tunneling under Vail Mountain.

Lowering the interstate and putting a lid on it in certain locations — a method called “cut and cover” — could be less costly and could be done in stages, Slifer said. But Councilman Greg Moffet said he thinks a tunnel solution can be found within the next 20 years.

“I don’t think it’s quixotic at all,” he said. It has the potential to solve community problems, he said, primarily noise from the interstate. Moffet acknowledged that funding wouldn’t happen on a local or even a state level.

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