DENVER - State highway officials promoting a $1.8 billion remake of Interstate 70 in northeast Denver are threatening to stumble into the same public relations mess that mired the U.S. 36 project earlier this year.
Or so say state Sen. Matt Jones and critics of the plan to add two toll lanes in each direction on I-70 from I-25 to Tower Road and remove a worn viaduct between Brighton Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard.
"After all the fallout over the handling of the U.S. 36 project," said Jones, a Louisville Democrat, "it appears things have not changed much."
Jones and others claim the Colorado Department of Transportation recently rammed through a recommendation to turn the retooling of I-70 into a public-private partnership, similar to the 50-year agreement CDOT sealed for U.S. 36 between Boulder and Denver.
The agency also touted an online poll, conducted among 1,643 visitors on CDOT's website from June 24 to July 9, that showed more than 50 percent of respondents want some sort of tolling and public-private partnerships to pay for new roads and maintenance. Nearly 37 percent said they wanted to increase the state gas tax or sales tax to pay for more free lanes, the poll said.