BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- A long-planned toll road on the verge of being built, is stopped in its tracks.
Denver7 reported Monday on how the city of Broomfield is hitting the brakes on the Jefferson Parkway, a ten-mile toll road connecting Golden to Broomfield, after soil samples uncovered elevated levels of plutonium near Rocky Flats in the same area where the highway is planned.
"At this time, based on a result of the soil samples conducted by the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA), there are no on-going activities to further the selection of a private partner for the Jefferson Parkway," an update posted on the city's website Sunday said. "Given the recent test results and the Council's feedback, the Parkway is not moving forward at this time."
However, due to the holiday weekend, city leaders weren't available to explain exactly what it means for the tollway's future which involves two other communities.
"The fact that this was released on a Sunday on Labor Day weekend, that gives me pause because it makes me think it's more of a political decision," said concerned neighbor Mike Raabe who is part of a group trying to stop the Parkway. "No one is saying that the tollway is dead, they're just saying 'at this time.'"
"I apologize to anybody if we've confused that message because there's still a consideration to be had by the city council - it's just not right now," Broomfield Deputy Manager, Kevin Standbridge, said on Tuesday.
Standbridge said there was nothing behind the weekend update and clarified what they intended to convey.
"Let's clear the right of way and make sure it's safe - and at this point there's a question about that right now and that question needs to be addressed and resolved," he said.
The JPPHA said in a news release it found the elevated levels of plutonium in the buffer zone at Rocky Flats, which is in the same area where the Jefferson Parkway is planned.
Bill Ray, executive director of the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority, said the authority notified the State Health Department about "inconsistent testing results from one soil sample."
He said one result indicated elevated plutonium levels but didn't indicate how high the level was.
"Much higher than we had expected and that has raised everybody's concerns," explained Standridge.
He said until more soil samples come back and the JPPHA is given guidance from the state health department, Broomfield is not moving forward with any funding for the parkway.
“The Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority Board of Directors has taken no action to change its approach to next steps with the Parkway," said Bill Ray, Executive Director of the JPPHA. "After the Board has the results of all 200+ soil samples and received appropriate direction from CDPHE, it will determine next steps for the highway and its process of selecting a contractor.”
For those who live along the intended route like Arvada neighbor Raabe, the Jefferson Parkway is an unwanted and costly disaster, threatening their environment.
"What's going on here is people are arguing about what a safe level of plutonium is - and that's a ridiculous argument," said Raabe.
While the Parkway's future is stalled for now, Standbridge said it's far from over.
"It has been worked on for 30 some years now, I would never call it a done deal. There's still decisions to be made," he said.