The first step is to ban all semi-truck traffic through the Eisenhower Tunnel. . . . Semis would also be banned over Loveland Pass. The basic idea is to eliminate the through traffic of heavy trucks. They take up lots of space on the road. They crawl uphill and they go even slower downhill. They need to slow for curves that don't bother passenger vehicles. They jack-knife and block traffic for hours, or they can lose their brakes and threaten other motorists until they reach a runaway truck ramp.
But what of the cargo carried by these trucks? . . . .
The cross-country stuff can go on Interstate 80 across Wyoming or Interstate 40 across New Mexico. . . . the initial plans for Interstate 70 half a century ago put its western terminus in Denver. . . . There is no national transportation need for I-70 west of Denver.
So some re-routing would handle much of the cargo now crossing the mountains on I-70. The stuff moving between Denver and Grand Junction, or Denver and Salt Lake City, could go by rail - within recent memory, the old Denver & Rio Grande Western offered overnight piggy-back service for semi trailers between Denver and Salt Lake.
What of deliveries to Vail and environs, though? . . . There's Minturn, just a few miles from Vail. And from Minturn, there's a railroad track to Pueblo. Most of the line is out of service, but only a decade ago, it handled 20 trains a day, and it shouldn't take a lot of work - cleaning culverts, removing small rockslides, replacing bad ties, etc. - to restore the tracks to service.
Piggy-backs or containers would go on the train at Pueblo, and about six hours later, the freight would come off the train at Minturn for truck delivery to the Vail area and even Summit County, since Vail Pass usually isn't all that congested. Further, some wholesale and supply trade now based in Denver would move to Pueblo - which would provide an economic boost to a city that's always looking for one. . . . Removing the semis from I-70 would increase highway capacity just as effectively as adding lanes, and it wouldn't require years of planning and construction, or any exotic and unproven technology.
There's no practical reason it couldn't be done by next fall[.]
The one barrier to the plan is that it would take federal legislation. But, the time could be ripe for this idea.
I-70 corridor has gone from being a place to pass through to a destination (in significant part because of I-70). Removing truck traffic would make it a more desirable tourist spot.
For reasons of withering long term supplies, national energy independence and the environment, interest in reducing petroleum consumption is at an all time high. The most painless way to do that is to shift freight traffic from long haul trucks to rail, which is far more fuel efficient, for the bulk of long haul trips.
Major projects like an expansion of I-70 also aren't cheap, and one of the issues that got Democrats elected in 2006 was moderate voter disgust at the GOP's failure to control spending.