Comprising nearly 50,000 miles, the country’s Interstate Highway System, with construction beginning in the mid-1950s, is in need of extensive upgrading, a challenge that the Reason Foundation has estimated will cost more than $1 trillion.
Work upgrading a small portion of that system between Denver and Aurora is expected to begin this summer at a price tag of $1.1 billion.
The Central 70 Project will reconstruct a 10-mile stretch first built in 1964.
Colorado Department of Transportation officials point out that 3 million more people use the east to west Interstate 70 in metro Denver today than when the highway was first opened. That number is expected to grow by another 3 million in the next two decades.
The project will add new express lanes in each direction, tear out an existing viaduct, and lower a portion of the interstate between Brighton Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard.
A 4-acre park will then be built on that portion of the lowered interstate which will include an amphitheater, sports field, splash park, and room for both community events, as well as a farmer’s market.
Two lawsuits have been filed to stop the project, and both have now been dismissed. The most recent action by the Sierra Club and two neighborhood associations said the Colorado DOT failed to take into account the adverse effects the construction would have on residents living in the vicinity of the interstate.
The dismissal of both suits, said Colorado DOT spokesperson Rebecca White in a statement, validated “the work we have done and will continue to do as we move this important project forward. The sooner we can proceed to construction, the sooner we can address this congested and deteriorating highway and bring relief to the 200,000 travelers who rely on I-70 every day.”
Work on the upgrading is expected to take two years to complete.
By Garry Boulard
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