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Ramblin' Man: Orange cones - traffic nuisance or moneymaker?

January 25, 2014
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photo - Photo by Garrison Wells, The Gazette
Photo by Garrison Wells, The Gazette 

Wealth, as wealthy folks know, depends upon trends and smart investing.

Rich folk know to look to trends that suggest where money is headed and, more important, where it can be made.

Trends at the moment suggest there may be money to be made in solar and wind power, electric cars, genomes, the Denver Broncos, anything Peyton Manning touches.

Pot, for instance, is hot in Colorado.

These mom-and-pop shops in the not too distant future will be snapped up by larger companies willing to let them take the risk upfront - could even be a payoff of a few million dollars in the future.

But it's a risky investment now, so it's always good to sink some money in safer investments to balance out the portfolio.

A safe choice in Colorado Springs? Orange traffic cones. They're everywhere. It's as if we are being invaded by stubby, orange aliens.

Sometimes we know where they are so we can prepare for the impact. Traffic that slows to a stop. Squeezed lanes. Bearded guys with hard hats and vests. Cone cops, I call them.

The orange cones we drivers know about are on such thoroughfares as North Nevada Avenue. Austin Bluffs Parkway has a few batches.

But there are times when they just seem to rise from the macadam like brightly colored mushrooms.

One day you're on Circle Drive, and it's clear sailing. The next day, there are orange cones everywhere.

It's more than likely they are worth a long-term look, considering the shape of Colorado roads.

Ruts continue to appear. So do potholes.

In its Transportation Deficit Report for 2013, the Colorado Department of Transportation puts the cost of reaching a goal of 47 percent of the state's roads in good to fair condition in 2023 at $3.3 billion over the next 10 years. That would require an annual budget of about $330 million.

That 47 percent is the current condition of the state's roads, so we're basically just trying to maintain the status quo.

Projected revenue comes in at far less, CDOT says, creating an annual deficit of $110 million, or $1.1 billion over the 10-year span.

Do I detect a trend here?

CDOT sure does, and that's why it's looking for public/private partnerships to help pave the way to better roads in Colorado.

Buy all the orange-cone manufacturers. Create an orange traffic cone monopoly.

It's the American way.

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