Protesters Call for I-70 Re-Route Outside Hancock’s Inaugural Address

Protestors used today's mayoral inauguration to protest the I-70 expansion. Photo: David Sachs
Protestors against the I-70 widening outside today’s mayoral inauguration. Photo: David Sachs

Protesters took aim at the I-70 widening project and demanded transparency today outside the Ellie Caulkins Opera House where Mayor Michael Hancock was being sworn in for his second term.

Chanters belted protest songs and held signs reading “We can re-route I-70!” and “!Sí se Puede Desviar El I-70!”

Fran Frainaguirre lifted a sign up at the corner of 14th and Curtis. “I very deeply believe in sustainability and walkability and bikeability, and all those things for this city,” she said. “We cannot just keep widening highways. That’s not the solution to our traffic problems. I think we all have to learn to get around on public transportation. By putting that highway in, they’re going to take the walkability away from people there. Come into the 21st century.”

Meanwhile, at the inauguration inside, outgoing City Auditor Dennis Gallagher gave his seat up to Tim O’Brien, but not before handing Hancock a letter that said he wouldn’t sign a cost-sharing agreement between the city and the Colorado Department of Transportation for the highway expansion.

Opponents of the I-70 widening take issue with the city’s decision to fund a portion of it — $83 million in cash and waived fees. They warn that the highway expansion will induce more traffic and increase air pollution near Swansea Elementary School. Protesters like Bob May, who passed out fliers about the highway’s impending damage, want CDOT to re-route I-70 around the neighborhoods by connecting it with I-76 and I-270. CDOT isn’t interested in that idea.

Despite a lot of public meetings, May said, the Hancock administration hasn’t been candid about its intentions, failing to follow the proper procedures, and pursuing the highway expansion as a fait accompli. “At least the state should do the environmental impact statement for an alternative route,” May said, “but at public meetings they just flat out refuse to acknowledge it.”

We’ll have more about Hancock’s inaugural address in a later post.

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