Widen­ing I-70 is a so­cial in­jus­tice. It’s also poor ur­ban plan­ning.

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Kyle Zep­pelin and Candi CdeBaca Re: Kyle Zep­pelin is a Den­ver de­vel­oper. Candi CdeBaca is co-founder of the Cross Com­mu­nity Coali­tion. This com­men­tary was also signed by Drew Dutcher, pres­i­dent of the Elyria and Swansea Neigh­bor­hood As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Ditch the de­lay on I-70 ex­pan­sion,” July 18 ed­i­to­rial.

The Den­ver Post’s ed­i­to­rial cor­rectly states that the pro­posed widen­ing of In­ter­state 70 through Den­ver is a “recipe for dis­as­ter.” Poor and Latino com­mu­ni­ties in Swansea/Elyria have suf­fered for years since I-70 was cut through Den­ver. The pro­posed ex­pan­sion will only worsen this suf­fer­ing.

As Ge­orge De­laney, who was Den­ver Pub­lic Works’ chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer at the time, frankly and pub­licly stated in 2016, the Colorado De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion “doesn’t care about Den­ver neigh­bor­hoods.”

These com­mu­ni­ties suf­fer ad­verse health ef­fects from I-70, with an av­er­age re­duced life­span of 3.5 years. More lanes of traf­fic will sicken and kill Den­ver res­i­dents. The dis­rup­tion of known haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als in con­struc­tion sites poses ad­di­tional health risks. CDOT’s as­sis­tance with in­door air qual­ity sys­tems only high­lights the dan­gers of be­ing out­doors in this area. The small park cap­ping a por­tion of the new “ditch” is in­ad­e­quate con­so­la­tion, and can­not be safely en­joyed. Lim­ited cross­ing points will fur­ther di­vide neigh­bor­hoods.

This ex­pen­sive project will de­plete scarce re­sources for other work and has been dubbed one of the na­tion’s big­gest boon­dog­gles. The Post ig­nores the project’s de­struc­tion of 17 busi­nesses and re­lated jobs. The “ditch” cre­ates enor­mous stormwa­ter man­age­ment prob­lems that will cost Den­ver an­other $300 mil­lion. Doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence con­tra­dicts The Post’s ca­sual ac­cep­tance of CDOT’s re­sponse on this point.

The Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy Act re­quires study that CDOT and the Fed­eral High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion have ig­nored. The Post in­vited a “spe­cific plea for what else is needed.” The law­suits seek trans­parency and ad­her­ence to fed­eral law con­cern­ing the project’s scope, cost, im­pact and al­ter­na­tives, to give the pub­lic the full story.

I-76 and I-270, which are al­ready slated for ex­pan­sion, can han­dle re-routed high­way traf­fic through this stretch. This re-route would mean­ing­fully af­fect far fewer peo­ple. Other cities have re­moved ur­ban high­ways, and neigh­bor­hoods flour­ished. The “ditch” is a so­cial in­jus­tice and poor ur­ban plan­ning.

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