EDITOR'S DESK: Let’s charge ‘em a toll
For those of us who have been following the “Envision 24 West” issue fairly closely, it has been a topic of curiosity for some time - who is it that is pushing this project
We got a a clue as to some of the characters at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) board meeting Sept. 12. The Teller and Park County elected officials, typically rather quiet at meetings dominated by issues affecting the exponentially larger El Paso County/Colorado Springs area, spoke up with vehemence at the merest suggestion (no actual proof) that a few local PPACG board members were going to "derail" the highway-expansion effort.
At first it was almost comical to hear a Teller County commissioner (Jim Ignatius) making such a fuss over 4 1/2 miles of highway far from his jurisdiction as an elected official, but it soon became abundantly clear that he (along with a couple of his mountain-town colleagues) was dead serious. And to make his point, as some politicians do, he even exaggerated a bit, describing a "quagmire" that few of us have ever seen, outside of a major accident during a three-day holiday, in which traffic is backed up all the way to Manitou Springs from Eighth Street.
But let's not quibble. Supposing such a traffic jam did occur, how much of it might be caused by commuters from Teller and Park counties - people leading the pristine, environmentally healthy mountain life, except for this small matter of having to work for a living and the only paying jobs being down in "big city" Colorado Springs? And oh, this nasty Westside they get stuck in for a light change or two!
So here's an idea: When and if our 4 1/2 miles get widened, eliminating $1.5 million a year in area tax money (according to Commissioner Sallie Clark's estimates), why don't we offset this loss by charging a toll to Ignatius and his commuting pals as they wheel into town, increasing our costs for road construction and maintenance and adding to our air and water quality deterioration? Seems outlandish? It gets worse. We run the next Highway 24 expansion through wherever he lives. Then he'd know what it's like to be thought of as nothing more than a regional traffic funnel. We could have a drink and call it square.