Progress and pain: Colorado's Central 70 project

Posted at 3:49 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-04 20:27:11-04

DENVER — It's known as one of Colorado's most congested corridors: Interstate 70 between Denver and Aurora.

I-70 is seen as a backbone for our state, connecting the east to the west — and the gridlock is getting worse.

When the interstate was built in 1964, 2 million people lived in Colorado. Today, 5 million people live in our state. By 2040, that number is expected to soar to 8 million.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, if something isn't done soon trips on I-70 could take as twice as long by 2035 as they do now.

That’s why the Central 70 Project exists. 

The $1.17 billion project will reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70 between Brighton Boulevard and Chambers Road, add one new Express Lane in each direction, remove the aging 54-year old viaduct, lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado boulevards, and place a 4-acre park over a portion of the lowered interstate. Construction would begin this summer.

There won't be a tax hike to pay for the project; tolls will help cover the cost. 

But with progress, comes pain.

"It will wipe out about a quarter of the neighborhood," said construction zone resident Drew Dutcher.

Some people have been forced to move from the Elyria Swansea neighborhood. Families who have lived there for decades expressed concern about their health, and the growth they feel is taking over their community.

"We are trying to get the attention of our city and state leaders who so far have ignored us,” said Dutcher.

A new park and play space would be built over part of the highway. There would also be new affordable housing.

CDOT says the goal is to keep I-70 open during the construction. Closures would take place overnight. The completion goal has been set for 2022.