I-70 toll bill withdrawn in Colorado Senate

| 4/25/2008

A Colorado state lawmaker who sponsored a bill to toll a stretch of Interstate 70 has withdrawn the measure because it lacked votes.

Trucking officials say the withdrawal of the bill is a victory for taxpayers who already pay their share to maintain the interstate system.

State Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs, sponsor of SB213, moved on Thursday, April 24, to lay the bill over until May 26 – Memorial Day – well after the Senate adjourns May 7.

The Associated Press reported that McElhany said he picked Memorial Day because he wants drivers stuck in holiday traffic to think about his bill. “When you’re sitting in that traffic jam (on the holiday weekend), just think of the $5 you could have paid to be out of it,” McElhany jokingly told his Senate colleagues.

The bill would have designated I-70 as a toll road between the Eisenhower Tunnel and Floyd Hill, west of Denver. The proposed toll rate was $5.

Truckers opposed the bill. Joe Rajkovacz, regulatory affairs specialist for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, testified to that during a Senate committee hearing in late March.

“It’s a great example of the trucking community working together to accomplish a common goal,” Rajkovacz told Land Line. “The senate chamber was full that day. Other than a couple of people, there was complete and total opposition to the tolling of I-70.”

Colorado Motor Carriers Association President Greg Fulton said the reasons for opposing tolls on an existing interstate are obvious to taxpayers, especially truckers.

“There’s a reason we call those freeways,” Fulton told Land Line. “The public was assured when they were built that they would be free routes. Tolling is something we abhor.”

Even if SB213 had been approved by the Legislature and governor, the tolling of an existing interstate would have required a federal waiver.

A separate bill to place a toll on the same portion of I-70 previously died in committee.

– By David Tanner, staff writer