DENVER -- Homes and businesses around Interstate 70 are boarded up while demolition is underway at a nearby hotel to make way for the massive highway expansion. But as construction equipment moves into this changing neighborhood, residents are growing more and more worried about potential impacts to their health.
"And you know, this whole area was a Superfund site with a lot of polluted soil and ground and they’re digging into that," said Rey Gallegos, a lifelong North Denver resident.
Gallegos and some of his neighbors are sounding the alarm about health concerns just one day after court proceedings involving the project. Neighborhood groups and the Sierra Club are fighting the expansion in federal court. They're arguing it will violate the Clean Air Act.
The I-70 expansion project would sink a portion of the highway while adding multiple lanes. Aside from the construction, residents say the added traffic would bring more pollution.
"I absolutely believe that the more that this construction goes on, there’s going to be more people who are going to have more breathing problems, even though a lot of people already have a lot of breathing problems here," said Gallegos.
A Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) spokesperson said "extraordinary commitments" to the community are required as part of the project and pointed out that CDOT has already invested $20 million into the Elyria-Swansea community. Some of those funds went toward home improvements to help mitigate noise and dust from the construction.