Community leaders worry construction projects in Denver will trap residents in their neighborhoods

DENVER -- The cranes, the cones and the plans for the future have community leaders worried for the 10,000 people in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods and for businesses along Brighton Boulevard.

Denver City Council President Albus Brooks, who represents District 9, said the city should focus on neighborhood connectivity, which he says won't happen with projects like the I-70 expansion. 

"Imagine this I-70 project, you're gonna see more disconnected residents from the rest of the city. You can't have that. You've got to be focused on connectivity."

The worry is that once the I-70 highway, the National Western Complex and other GO Bond projects all get under way, street closures could literally trap people in their neighborhoods or close access in emergencies.

Councilwoman At-Large Debbie Ortega is pushing for a point person to keep all the projects coordinated. She told Denver 7 the estimated cost could be between $3,000 and $6,000, according to information she received from the North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative.

"Buses gotta get kids to school, emergency vehicles got to be able to get in and out. Employees have to get to their jobs."

The North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, the agency that manages the city projects in North Denver, provided the following statement to Denver 7:

“We know that the construction along Brighton Boulevard, along with upcoming projects and private development, is having an impact on our neighborhoods and commuters. We assure the community that we are working hard to mitigate those impacts, and as major projects come online that we will develop a plan to lessen such impacts, as well as identifying funding possibilities for that plan. We appreciate City Council’s work on this effort and assure our community that this is a priority for us and we will work to ensure residents have safe and accessible options to get around their neighborhoods.”

Leesly León

Communications

North Denver Cornerstone Collaborative, Mayor’s Office

“They have no control over private development, they have no control over when there’s special events that request street closure,” said Ortega.

Brighton Boulevard has already been under construction and consistently brings traffic to a halt, possibly affecting business owners and landlords like Larry Burgess. He’s owned buildings on the street for 40 years.

"You just can’t go, put the street in. So yeah I have tenants, a couple of them that have left," said Burgess. "How are there employees gonna get here and how are they going to move around?"

He hopes the city comes through with a plan.

"It's really critical for the survival of these communities. Both for the residents and the businesses that all of this is coordinated in a way that you just don't leave it to chance," said Ortega.

If the mayor’s budget team doesn't allot for funding of a dedicated point-person to oversee and coordinate the different projects, Ortega will plan to push an amendment before city council on November 6.

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