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US District Court allows $1.2 billion Central 70 Project to continue

Portions of lawsuit challenging project continue
Posted at 3:43 PM, Nov 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-09 17:43:11-05

DENVER – The Federal District Court in Denver on Thursday dismissed certain claims that alleged the Central 70 Project is improperly connected to Denver’s Platte and Park Hill stormwater project, allowing the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to continue forward with the project.

But that doesn't mean a July lawsuit that attempts to stop the $1.2 billion expansion of Interstate 70 is dead in the water.

Several claims “relating to certain environmental issues are still before the Court,” said a Central 70 Project spokesperson in a statement sent to Denver7.

A developer, along with residents who are against the project, are still seeking an injunction to stop the I-70 expansion based on claims of environmental and health concerns for residents living in the area.

In September, the developer and residents against the expansion asked the court to temporarily halt the Central 70 Project, as well as stop further construction of the Platte to Park Hill Project.

On Thursday, the Court found that it lacks the jurisdiction to rule on claims relating to Denver’s stormwater project, ruling that it can proceed independently regardless of the I-70 expansion, according to the statement sent to Denver7.

“This is positive news for the Central 70 Project and important confirmation of the diligence and effort CDOT has devoted to preparing to deliver a safer and less congested I-70,” said Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director of CDOT. “CDOT has long-maintained that the Central 70 Project will stand up under the toughest legal scrutiny and today’s finding affirms that.”

CDOT has stated in the past that the I-70 viaduct is coming down one way or another. The bridge is the worst in CDOT's inventory and officials added that tension rods meant to extend the life of the viaduct have been snapping off.

Kiewit Meridiam Partners has been selected to lead the development and reconstruction of much of I-70 in the Denver area that will be the largest infrastructure development in CDOT’s history.

CDOT says that KMP was selected because its proposal came in on-budget and could cut 6 months off of construction, which is expected to take around 4 years to complete under the KMP proposed schedule. 

KMP’s proposal would remove a decades-old viaduct that has caused issues with groundwater, and lower the freeway between Brighton and Colorado boulevards. A 4-acre park will go in over a portion of the lowered highway.

Ten miles of I-70 will be rebuilt from downtown Denver eastward, and an express lane will be added to both east- and westbound lanes between I-25 and Chambers Road.

After the construction project is completed, KMP will oversee operations and maintenance of Central 70, as the project has been dubbed, for the remainder of the 30-year period.

CDOT says the Central 70 project includes nearly 150 different commitments to the surrounding neighborhoods, including renovations to Swansea Elementary School, home improvement projects for residents near the project site, a workforce development program to hire local workers and $2 million to support affordable housing.