CDOT Reps Portray I-70 Widening as Inevitable

CDOT representatives pitched ideas for the highway cap to Elyria Swansea residents last night. The I-70 project still has to clear a major hurdle, but that's not stopping the plans for the cap or the accompanying lane widening from moving forward.
CDOT representatives pitched ideas for a proposed two-block highway cap, part of the I-70 widening project, to Elyria Swansea residents last night. The I-70 widening still has to go through the environmental review process, but it is being portrayed as a done deal. Photo: Dave Sachs

Residents barely outnumbered the representatives pitching them on the new I-70 “cover” last night at a public meeting in Elyria Swansea. The speakers painted the project — linked to the expensive, traffic-generating I-70 widening — as a done deal.

Advocacy efforts to re-route the highway are still active, but face an intransigent Colorado Department of Transportation, which has deemed the option unviable, and Mayor Michael Hancock, who officially declared his support for the $1.8 billion design in 2013.

The highway widening project has yet to complete the environmental review process, but barring a lawsuit or drastic policy reversal, the wider I-70 is on track to be built. Once the highway has been lowered below street grade, a two-block parcel of land will be built on top of it.

CDOT, city employees, and consultants kept up the appearance of inevitability last night at the Swansea Recreation Center, where they pitched two similar versions of the highway cover. Neighborhood residents gave their opinions, which CDOT representatives said will guide the final design.

“We want to gather information and input from all of you,” a meeting facilitator told the sparse crowd. “There are not going to be any decisions made in this meeting. We’re going to make a decision later this summer.”

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  • bike5280

    My understanding is that without the additional toll lanes there is not sufficient funding available. Toll lanes have essentially become mandatory for big projects like this in colorado.

    Of course, expanding I-70 not long after rail is completed along the same corridor seems like a good way to sabotage fasttrack’s success (similiar to the $100 million CDOT is spending to speed up traffic on 6th Ave while the new lightrail travels at a crawl.)

    • neroden

      I thought the toll roads were barely breaking even. Are the tolls actually going to provide enough funding, or is this going to be bailed out by general fund money?