DENVER (CBS4) – Traffic could get much worse on Interstate 70 over the next few years. But that could change if Colorado were to be awarded the Olympic Games.
Mayor Michael Hancock and Gov. John Hickenlooper are considering a possible bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Every time the U.S. has gotten an Olympic bid the federal government has provided money for projects, and that could mean major improvements for I-70.
On any given weekend I-70 becomes like a parking lot because of all the traffic. It makes it hard for emergency vehicles to get through. A fix is already underway, but it could be sped up with an Olympic bid.
“We’d like to go to the dance but the music hasn’t started yet,” Hickenlooper said. “Having a major international event like an Olympics would certainly provide access to federal money and resources we perhaps otherwise wouldn’t have.”
With the Pepsi Center, Denver already has a main venue. With the Democratic National Convention and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the city has shown it can handle a major event. A commitment of federal dollars could go directly to transportation.
“A lot of the money would be for things we need to do anyway, like finishing FasTracks or getting an extra lane up to Vail,” Hickenlooper said.
New taxes are already needed to finish the current plans for light rail expansion, and that’s dwarfed by the billions needed to fix I-70.
Breckenridge Mayor John Warner says there’s a huge upside to getting the Olympics.
“When it’s done well like they did it in Utah, it’s probably a money maker,” Warner said.
Even the Olympics might not solve some of the biggest issues Coloradans want to see for the I-70 corridor. The president of the I-70 Coalition says getting a rail system along I-70 is probably out of the question.