DENVER (AP) – The Colorado Department of Transportation is asking engineers and developers for ideas on how to ease traffic congestion on the Interstate 70 mountain corridor between Golden and Eagle.

Department spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said Friday that CDOT is trying to tap into the private sector to come up with long-term infrastructure improvements along the interstate, which sees spikes in traffic during ski season and summer holiday weekends.

An average of about 25,000 vehicles travel the corridor on a normal weekday, she said, but as many as 50,000 could use it on the busiest days of summer. About 35,000 vehicles use the corridor during the average ski weekend.

Last year, the engineering firm Parsons submitted an unsolicited proposal to add toll lanes and eventually a transit system as a long-term solution, saying revenues would be sufficient so little to no state or federal money would be needed. Existing lanes on I-70 would remain free for all vehicles.

Firms have until April 23 to submit their interest in preparing comparable proposals, which will also include helping CDOT secure a public-private partnership for financing, designing, building and operating the improvements through a long-term concession agreement.

“It’s really just about the will and creativity of the private sector right now,” Stegman said, adding that the state is not in the position to fund such an extensive project.

“Whoever decides to submit, it’s going to be an investment on their behalf to go through the process,” she said.

CDOT also is considering allowing motorists to use the shoulders along parts of the interstate, and has used police pace cars to produce more uniform speeds and reduce congestion and crashes.

But Stegman said a long-term, major infrastructure project will eventually be needed.

“It’s primarily a weekend problem,” she said. “But we know that the way it is going, it is going to become a weekday problem as well.”

– By THOMAS PEIPERT, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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