The One Person Who Can Stop the I-70 Widening Is John Hickenlooper

While Colorado DOT seems hell-bent on spending billions of dollars to widen I-70, it’s not too late to stop the project. If Governor John Hickenlooper says the word, the city can still escape unscathed from the state’s efforts to ram a super-wide below-grade highway through north Denver.

Hickenlooper
Governor John Hickenlooper

Going through with the highway widening will have long-lasting consequences, saddling the city with more traffic and more pollution for generations. City residents who want to avoid that fate should make sure the governor’s office knows what they think.

Governors have the power to kill bad projects no matter how far along they are. Last year Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner drove a stake into the Illiana Expressway, an ill-conceived tollway south of Chicago that would have cost $3 billion. The project was a top priority of the previous governor.

It’s not too late for Hickenlooper to do the same in north Denver.

Widening I-70 has never been some pet project of Hickenlooper’s. He’s maintained some distance from it while Mayor Michael Hancock, the City Council, and the Denver Regional Council of Governments have been complicit.

Hickenlooper is now the only person in a position to put his foot down and stomp out a terrible project.

The project’s final public comment period ends March 2. If you want to stop a highway widening that Denver will regret for a long time, tell Hickenlooper and his DOT that the lost homes and businesses, the added congestion, the noise and traffic pollution, and the lost opportunity to make a better city will be laid at his feet.

  • mckillio

    A link to give feedback to the Governor would be great as well. https://www.colorado.gov/governor/share-your-comments

  • John Riecke

    Done: “I’d much rather my taxes go to something productive, not a concrete boondoggle. Denver will grow in accordance with its environment, expansion or not, and tripling the width of non-tax generating concrete scar through town is a bad idea. If we spent a tenth of those dollars on bike lanes and sidewalks the economic return would be much greater than this plan which will create more traffic and increase transportation costs while frittering away money needed for infrastructure repair. Please stop this project and urge CDOT to study the I270/I-76 re-route and give Denver a chance to repair the mistakes of the past rather than compound them.”

  • JohnnyW

    This is a plan based on a 1950’s mindset. “We’ll just bulldoze everything in the way and just build a bigger road!” It’s time to face the facts that cars and urban areas have a limit and Denver is approaching it. If we keep widening roads and building more, Denver will look like LA in a decade.

  • Netia Ingram

    Why would we want to kill such a necessary project? I live next to I-70 near the Purina factory, and I spent years traveling I-70 back and forth to work each day. We NEED to expand I-70. It’s good for my neighborhood, and it’s good for Denver’s economy. Please, please, please, let this project move forward at last.

    • RobertChase

      Why? It is a tremendous boondoggle that ultimately will not improve traffic on I-70. The rational alternative is simply to rebuild the viaduct, making incremental improvements.

      • Netia Ingram

        Doubling the size of the highway means doubling the traffic that can travel on it. AKA – common sense.

  • RobertChase

    Hack is an utter incompetent; recall that this idiot declared the Plenary 36 giveaway the model for all future addition of lanes on limited-access highways and declared this to be State policy. His Party is hoping that its failure to put the case for public expenditures to the People and Hack’s abdication of the responsibility to govern will instead somehow be blamed on TABOR and that they will then finally be able to rescind or modify it. If their political fantasy is ever put to a vote, it will be resoundingly defeated!

  • The highway definitely needs to be rebuilt before the viaduct collapses, and because our gas tax hasn’t risen in 24 years many of metro-Denver’s major highways are choking business growth due to under-design too.

    However, building more traffic lanes just encourages more growth, though I can tell you from personal experience that more growth is not nearly as-bad as living in a city that the business community abandons and the economy collapses in either.

    There must be some happy middle ground here as I-70 between I-25 and I-270 is one of the worst traffic nightmares in the entire metro area, and both I-70 and I-270/I-76 west of I-25 need widening badly, as does I-70 west of the I-76 junction too. I-76 east of I-270 as far as US 85 north is also a nightmare that is killing productivity badly.

    Now I have protested the CDOT tunnel plan profusely, as its current design has a 4% grade on its west end, which in my professional opinion will result in slowed traffic 12-14 hours every day, as once the loaded trucks get slowed down on that upgrade they won’t be able to accelerate beyond the 25-35 mph range before the top of the hill depending on their power to weight ratio.

    Worse yet, the eastbound downgrade is also 4%, and it limits forward visibility enough that if traffic stops just beyond the bottom of the hill there is a chance that some heavy-loaded trucks won’t be able to stop in time to avoid crashing into the stopped vehicles as the gradient greatly increases loaded truck stopping distances.

    I just can’t wait for a snowstorm or ice storm to turn that 4% grade into a skating rink, as it will take all day to clean up the mess and get traffic moving again.

    I could see a less-invasive and less-expensive method of widening the highway which would leave 4 lanes of I-70 as an elevated express lane with no exit between Colorado and I-25, and put the other 6 lanes in a tunnel, which should start as far west as the Platte River bridge to reduce the gradient into the 2.2% range, a much safer slope.

    Modern bridge construction technology should be able to reduce the number of bridge joints by 2/3rds or more, or a suspension structure could carry the 4 elevated lanes for 1000 feet or more over that proposed park area without more than a single support post too.

    Such a plan wouldn’t require any loss of homes or businesses in that neighborhood either.

    Either that or lots of businesses could allow lots of their employees to work from home instead of coming downtown to work every day which would also reduce the need for freeway widening and be much more-sustainable too.

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