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Mountain News: Homeless campground to be considered in Durango



DURANGO, Colo. — Durango city officials have started talking about building a permanent campground for the homeless.

The ambition is inspired by a campground in Las Cruces, N.M. called Camp Hope. Opened six years ago, it has permanent bathrooms and showering facilities in an area proximate to services for the homeless. The permanence gives local officials the ability to better address fire and safety concerns.

The Durango Telegraph said that Camp Hope is cited as a success because a large number of homeless residents at the campground have transitioned to permanent housing. That said, the cost of housing in the New Mexico city is far less than that in Durango.

Durango municipal officials estimate the campground would cost US$250,000 to build on the city-owned land and US$60,000 annually to operate.

La Plata County already has a campground in Durango with 25 campsites and 33 individuals living there. Unlike what is proposed, however, the campsites are temporary in nature, leaving both safety and sanitary issues to be resolved.

I-70 toll lanes proclaimed a success; more are planned

IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. — It works! That's the conclusion of the Colorado Department of Transportation (C-Dot) two years after it put into place new tolling lanes on Interstate 70 between metropolitan Denver and the mountain resorts.

Citing a recent C-DOT report, the Vail Daily reported that use of the express lane more than doubled during its second winter season. About eight per cent of peak-day traffic used the lane when it was open. Those motorists paid an average of US$5 to US$6 to move a little bit faster through the 21-kilometre segment.

Traffic congeals on winter and summer weekends. The trip from Summit County to Denver, which is about 120 kilometres and normally a little more than an hour, could take four hours if attempted during a Sunday afternoon.

There are several pinch points. One is at the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel under the Continental Divide, where the highway is constricted to two lanes. Another narrowing is found in the Idaho Springs area, where three lanes narrow to two. A central problem is at Idaho Springs itself, an old mining town built long before interstate highways were contemplated. Space is tight. Expanding the footprint of the highway would have had devastating consequences for the town.

C-DOT plowed US$70 million into modification of the eastbound lanes in order to squeeze in a narrow toll lane. The intent is to add capacity to the highway by giving some drivers faster speeds, but in turn allowing everybody to go faster. Megan Castle, a spokeswoman for C-DOT, told the Vail Daily that the added lane has reduced overall travel times in the three lanes on weekend and holidays afternoons anywhere from 26 to 52 per cent.

Traffic moved faster even as the overall number of vehicles on the corridor increased about nine per cent last winter.

Castle said the express lane will lose its advantage if more than 10 per cent of drivers choose to use it. If that happens, then tolls will be increased for the lane, in what is called variable pricing. The maximum charge would be $30.

With this success, several similar projects are planned to speed traffic on I-70 during peak times.

What deals will be cut next week?

SUN VALLEY, Idaho — If past is prologue, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg will be among the titans of the new American economy in Sun Valley next week to compare notes and perhaps strike new deals at the annual conference hosted by Allen & Co.

Several years ago at the conference, Bezos, the founder of Amazon and the world's second wealthiest person, behind only Bill Gates, forged a purchase of the ailing Washington Post. Other big deals have also been shaped in hallway conversations.

Among those invited to attend this year is Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, known as a business-friendly governor with possible presidential aspirations.

The press is barred from the sessions. Even so, many major news organizations send reporters to note who is seen talking with who when they venture into public during the four-day conference.

Last year, the average nightly rate for a terrace suite at the Sun Valley Lodge, where the conference held, was $529, noted the Wall Street Journal. It also noted that nine Gulfstream G650 jets were among those parked at the local airport during the 2015 event. Those jets go for $65 million each.