DENVER CHURCH SUPPORTS “DITCH THE DITCH” ON I-70
Shorter AME shows support for Ditch the Ditch, opposed to plans for expansion
The congregation of Denver’s oldest African-American church on Sunday showed its support for Ditch the Ditch, a group that has sued Denver to prevent the proposed expansion of Interstate 70 through the communities of Globeville and Elyria-Swansea.
Addressing the congregation and residents of the communities hosted by the Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Timothy E. Tyler, Shorter’s senior pastor, called for mindful development — and for Mayor Michael Hancock and the City Council “to consider an alternative route.”
The low-income neighborhoods surrounded by heavy industry in northeast Denver face demolition of homes for a major construction project at a time when housing costs are skyrocketing and gentrification is forcing low-income residents out of some areas.
The project requires the demolition of 56 homes and 17 businesses in Elyria-Swansea and surrounding areas.
“The expansion of the 70 freeway will cause irreparable harm to a community that already has overwhelming ecological and cultural vulnerabilities,” Tyler said. “It is time for Mayor Hancock and the city of Denver to treat underserved residents of Denver as human beings and stakeholders and not as pawns and disposable objects.”
City leaders often fail to listen to the concerns of citizens, he added. “People over progress, people over business,” he said.
Tyler led the congregation in praying that city leaders “do the right thing.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation has won federal approval for the $1.2 billion expansion through the heavily Latino neighborhoods of Elyria-Swansea and Globeville.
Through Elyria-Swansea, where an existing but decaying viaduct bisected the community 53 years ago, the 1.8-mile span would be replaced by a belowgrade highway between Brighton Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard, with a 4-acre parkland cap planned atop part of it as one of many concessions by CDOT.
“It is very important to get as many people involved as possible” in fighting the project, said Tom Clarke, a retired architect, and member of Ditch the Ditch.
CDOT has refused to consider alternate routes that would cause less destruction than the present proposal, Clarke said.
The special worship service also celebrated more than 52 progressive community groups, faith and civic leaders and individuals for their partnership with Shorter to do social justice work in metro Denver.