Executive Director, CoPIRG
Executive Director, CoPIRG
DENVER – Dozens of people gathered to show support for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to remove the I-25 Central expansion project and new highway lanes from its long-term plan, which it is finalizing in the next few months.
The groups applauded CDOT’s recent indication that highway expansion along this stretch of I-25 between 20th Street and Santa Fe Drive will not happen in the next few years and called on CDOT to replace it in the long-term, 10-Year plan with investments in the corridor that will move people more efficiently, reduce pollution, increase safety and reconnect communities.
The event follows the submission of a letter, in March, on behalf of 18 groups, outlining the need to transform how the state approaches I-25 Central and other major urban interstate corridors.
“We applaud CDOT for temporarily removing highway widening from the immediate future of this corridor,” said Molly McKinley, policy director for the Denver Streets Partnership. “Now they should take the final step and remove it from the 10-Year plan and instead invest in the kinds of projects that will increase safety, expand access, and reconnect communities.”
“Adding new highway lanes brings more cars because it does not expand options. By removing I-25 lane widening from the 10-Year plan and replacing it with investments that expand options like transit, biking, and safer streets, we will be moving toward cleaner air, safer streets, and better mobility,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG executive director.
“Every day, Sun Valley residents and businesses feel the impact of one of Colorado’s largest highways, I-25, including pollution and noise,” said local resident Jenny Esquibel. “Our community does not need more cars moving on new lanes. We need more buses, more sidewalks, safer streets, and better connections to our neighbors along I-25 and on the other side.”
“Just as we are not permitting new coal burning power plants, we should not be permitting new highway expansions through our urban corridors that we know will increase air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and respiratory illness,” said Barbara Donachy, MPH and on the Board of Directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility Colorado. “Highway expansions already being planned such as I-25 through the Sun Valley neighborhood and I-270 through Commerce City must not escape scrutiny under these greenhouse gas reduction rules. Funds for those projects should be redirected to infrastructure that reduces air pollution and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and simultaneously improves the lives of Disproportionately Impacted Communities.”
“We worked hard last year to ensure CDOT and local governments were required to factor in air pollution in their plans moving forward,” said Juan Madrid, clean transportation and energy policy advocate in Colorado for GreenLatinos. “This is a great opportunity to act on those requirements. We will not be able to hit our climate and air pollution goals equitably if we keep highway widening on the table. Let’s replace new lanes with transit, walking, and biking and move people not cars so that our latino communities can breathe cleaner air.”
“I’ve lived along I-25 for years, first in Villa Park and now in Athmar Park and I can tell you we need major investments in transit on this side of town,” said Chris Applegate, transit rider and Public Lands Chair with Sierra Club. “Without fast, frequent transit, people are forced to drive to do everything. There are lots of people like me who want to or have to ride the bus. Let’s create dedicated bus lanes on Federal and Colfax and ramp up service so every bus in the area is coming every 10 minutes.”
Over the summer, CDOT will update the list of projects and programs that will make up its vision for what it will build and operate in the next 10 years. The 10-Year plan will then go to the CDOT Transportation Commission in the fall for approval.
In CDOT’s PEL for the I-25 Central project, one scenario includes a $1.5 billion investment to widen 4.5 miles of I-25 as a means to tackle safety, congestion and operation issues. A recent analysis by RMI, highlighted that adding lanes does not solve congestion in the long-term and increases pollution.
The coalition is calling on CDOT to replace the I-25 Central project with significant investments in bus rapid transit lines, making pedestrian and safety improvements on major arterials like Federal, and improving key bridges and adding connections across I-25.