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