Dennis Gallagher: City and CDOT Rushing to Ram a Wider I-70 Through Denver

Outgoing City Auditor Dennis Gallagher has been a thorn in the side of reckless I-70 expansionists for a long time. When the city council first considered proclaiming support last year, he blasted the 10-lane, $1.8 billion proposal. Before the Denver Regional Council of Governments awarded the project $50 million, he gave a scathing warning.

Dennis Gallagher
Dennis Gallagher

Now Gallagher is calling out the Colorado Department of Transportation for trying to drive stakes in the ground before the design is finalized, and the City and County of Denver for its acquiescence.

On his blog, Gallagher scolds the city for pursuing an “intergovernmental agreement” with the Colorado Department of Transportation that would “allow the city to actually start work and spend money on the I-70 reconstruction,” even though final designs are at least a year away. Gallagher says the agreement would commit more than $100 million of taxpayer money to begin the process of widening I-70.

From his post:

Frankly I am incensed — though not surprised — at this. The reality is that CDOT and the Denver ‘powers that be’ decided long ago that the so-called preferred alternative (the ten-lane cut and cover) would be what is built despite — and in disregard for — the results of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).

The final version of the EIS won’t be completed until February, according to CDOT. A required approval from the Federal Highway Administration may not come until a year from now, maybe later.

Nevertheless, CDOT continues to portray the project as a done deal. While the highway widening will likely clear the federally mandated process, the sooner CDOT starts building it, the easier it will be to head off opposition, and the less recourse the public will have to stop a road expansion that contradicts basic principles of good city design.

Gallagher gets this:

But we all know that the City and CDOT are in the ‘wink and nod’ mode. The deal is done; it is a fait accompli; the process is a sham; and they don’t care about serious issues and concerns they just need to get on with building their mega-highway.

“Get out of the way, people. You’re blocking the lanes!”

  • BKE

    We heard from Albus Brooks at one of the District 9 debates that it was a “DONE DEAL.” Chris Nevitt at this spring’s City Summit pulled me aside (after I asked “how do we stop it” to speaker [Jeff Speck] who said he’d told then Mayor John Hickenlooper “not to build it”) and told me that I didn’t understand the complexities of the “option.” I imagine that this is a “done deal” because the city has already started taking money for the project and committed resources to solving some extensive waste water issues with the federal funding (but not for I-70) but for their beloved National Western Stock show redo. Dennis calls it like it is when he says “we all know that the City and CDOT are in the ‘wink and nod’ mode. The deal is done; it is a fait accompli; the process is a sham; and they don’t care about serious issues and concerns they just need to get on with building their mega-highway.”

    We are basically we’re stuck with this no “option” option no matter what the studies say.

    • mckillio

      Thanks for the inside info.

    • neroden

      That’s traditionally when you throw all the corrupt politicians out on their ear at the next election.

  • Cyclehead

    Having looked at the other options I didn’t see any others that were better than this one. Rerouting I-70 would just divide a different neighborhood, and the viaduct continues to crumble. We’re going to be lucky if we manage to take it down voluntarily and not have gravity do it with a couple hundred cars along for the ride.

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