Think of it as the elephant in the room — and that’s not a reference to the fact that Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper was surrounded by Republicans Wednesday when he addressed a gathering of civic and business leaders in Colorado Springs.
No, it was the other elephant: I-25’s near-constant state of gridlock. Sure, the governor had the usual words of encouragement for the No. 2 city’s economic trajectory and its future prospects in general. But it was the woes of the city’s major traffic artery — and what the state was going to do about it — that he knew he had to discuss.
It’s pretty much the first topic to come up whenever the governor swings by the Pikes Peak region to pay his respects. As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Matt Steiner noted in covering the governor’s latest appearance, Hick knew his audience:
…Hickenlooper turned his attention to I-25, which has frustrated people traveling from Colorado Springs to Denver for decades. During the speech he said, “If we do nothing, it’s a formula for congestion,” adding that more traffic backups could lead to local residents clamoring about too much growth in the area.
“You’ve got to have basic infrastructure,” he said.
What hope could he offer? Not much that was concrete. State lawmakers at the Capitol are still stuck in a bottleneck of their own as transportation talks between the two parties have yet to yield a long-term funding solution.
“We have to do something this session to turn this thing around,” Hickenlooper said. You have to wonder if by that point the governor was trying to reinforce his own resolve as much as he was that of his audience.
Here’s the link again to The Gazette’s full report on the governor’s visit.