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Report: I-70 expansion plan was a waste of money

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Posted at 10:36 PM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-20 06:54:09-05

A $1.2 billion proposal to widen and toll parts of Interstate 70 through northeast Denver is being called one of the country's most wasteful highway projects by a national public interest group.

But state planners for I-70 say their designs for the highway will improve local neighborhoods, cut congestion and provide welcome alternatives for motorists. They said the project is a 100-year investment in the corridor.

"We will have an express lane to encourage car pooling, a commuter rail line will soon be opening near by... these are the types of projects we want to see developed," said Rebecca White, spokeswoman for the east I-70 project. "We are going to do this in a very thoughtful way."

Still, a report by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) — unveiled under the shadow of the I-70 viaduct near Swansea Elementary School — says the I-70 proposal will burn up at least $58 million in taxpayer dollars. That's funding that could go toward investing in other forms of transportation, like a commuter bus service, or in programs to discourage driving, said Danny Katz, director of the CoPIRG Foundation.

CoPIRG lumps the I-70 proposal with 11 national highway projects that will waste at least $24 billion in tax dollars. The report says the projects are "wrongly prioritizing expansion over repair of existing infrastructure" and are based on poor projections of future needs.

Full report on The Denver Post