DENVER – An international group that promotes vibrant, livable communities has included a stretch of I-70 on its list of “freeways without futures.”
Congress for the New Urbanism bills itself as a group of “diverse global thought-leaders on design, development, policy, implementation, and activism.” Its list of “freeways without futures” features 10 highways the group thinks should be demolished rather than repaired or expanded.
With a huge rebuilding project in the works for I-70 and vocal opposition from neighborhood groups, CNU decided to include the aging elevated freeway on this year’s list.
Federal officials recently gave the green light to the $1.2 billion Central 70 project, which calls for demolishing the elevated portion of freeway, rebuilding it below street level with added express lanes and then covering a portion of it with a park.
The project has faced stiff opposition from neighborhood groups in Elyria-Swansea and Globeville who claim the largely minority neighborhoods will be negatively affected by a wider freeway and the demolition of dozens of homes.
In putting the I-70 project on its list, CNU highlighted an alternative plan from Unite North Metro Denver, which calls for turning the freeway into a street-level boulevard that’s more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. Freeway traffic would be diverted onto I-76 and I-270 to the north.
Leaders with Unite North Metro Denver say such an alternative would do a better job of connecting the neighborhoods to the rest of the city and would open up the area to redevelopment.
The Central 70 project is at the center of two lawsuits, but the state continues to move forward with the project. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2018.
Read about the other freeways included on the "freeways without futures" list here.