Tonight: Tell CDOT That I-70 Doesn’t Need More Lanes

City Councilor Deborah Ortega grilled the Colorado Department of Transportation last month over its agreement with Denver Public Works that trades flood protection for $83 million in funding for a massive I-70 expansion. “Yes, the drainage has been part of the conversations, but not the details of how all of this was going to be financed and what kind of long-term commitment we’re asking Denver taxpayers to make on this,” Ortega said at the time.

Image: David Sachs
Protesters call for Mayor Michael Hancock to call off the I-70 widening. Photo: David Sachs

Since then CDOT has tread more carefully in its campaign to add four lanes to the highway in northeast Denver. The state agency organized a series of public meetings that began Monday, and the final one takes place tonight at Swansea Recreation Center. CDOT officials say they will “let the public know we are listening to them and value their input,” according to a press release.

So, how will CDOT “value” residents’ input? Will it reconsider widening the highway, which the agency to this point has pursued fervently — justifying the project with questionable traffic projections and portraying it as a done deal? Or will CDOT again divert attention to the proposed highway cover — a four-acre deck over the interstate that the agency has deployed as a greenwashing tactic to appease residents of the Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods?

Though environmental review for the $1.8 billion expansion hasn’t finished, CDOT officials have already identified a short list of construction firms to build it. Reps will discuss that selection process tonight and have committed to answering questions about the project as a whole, too.

If you want answers, head down to Swansea Recreation Center at 2650 E. 49th Ave. tonight between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. With enough public pressure, tonight’s meeting could be a rare opportunity to put CDOT officials on the spot — not just another chance for the agency to go through the motions of public engagement.

  • Anthony

    If congestion is the issue, CDOT can toll the existing lanes and see an instant reduction in traffic by 20-30% per the VTPI’s Tod Litman. Once the University of Colorado A Line™ is in service, residents of Montbello, Green Valley Ranch, Stapleton, and even Auroran’s who use I-70 have transportation options that choice riders will appreciate, thereby reducing the necessity of the freeway itself. In fact, the projected ridership of the A line is 37,900 people per day, which will (if all riders were previously SOV drivers on I-70) reduce ADT by 20% from it’s highest volumes at the I-270 interchange. The lid they’re touting will cover 1.8% of the freeway. Freeways in and of themselves prevent mobility. Freeways typically have exits every one mile, so drivers can exit once per minute of driving. Someone walking will need to detour up to 17.1 minutes just to cross the freeway. To provide the same amount of mobility to a human as they want to give a car there would need to be a crossing every 308 feet… just slightly shorter than the typical Denver block (east/west). It’s a waste to widen this freeway and I maintain the best option is to tear it out and re-route traffic on to I-270/I-76.