I-70 expansion contractor to reconsider plans for 24/7 construction through 2023

I-70 expansion contractor to reconsider plans for 24/7 construction through 2023

News that construction on the I-70 expansion through Denver could run 24/7 for the next 65 months drew prompt backlash from people concerned about additional noise and pollution for such a sustained period.

Now, Kiewit Meridiam Partners, the contractor for the $1.2 billion lane widening project, says it’s reconsidering that plan.

Kiewit has asked Denver’s Board of Public Health and Environment to delay a hearing on the 24/7-through-2023 construction proposal, which was set for review by the board on Thursday. Such a schedule would require a variance, which only that board can approve. Kiewit’s asking to push the hearing to Aug. 9.

“We want to work further with (Public Health and Environment) to make our variance request answers the questions that people are asking,” said Hunter Sydner, spokeswoman for Kiewit.

Asked what aspects of the plan Kiewit is specifically going to reconsider ahead of August’s meeting, Sydnor mentioned the duration of the variance and the manner in which Kiewit engages with the public about its progress on the 10-mile project.

Sydner has said that if Kiewit can’t get a variance for round-the-clock construction work, it could mean the project’s end date gets pushed back. Kiewit said it expects to finish construction in 2022, but drafted its variance request for 2023 in anticipation of any unexpected delays.

Yadira Sanchez, a community activist who opposes the expansion, said she believes Kiewit and the city knew all along that this project would take longer than five years, and that they proposed the 24/7 work in order to try to meet an “impossible deadline.”

“I think they should have a little bit more consideration for all the people living in this neighborhood, who are humans,” said Sanchez. “It’s more important than them trying to meet their deadline. They need to face reality.”

City Council President Albus Brooks, who represents much of the affected area — Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, upper Park Hill, Cole and Clayton are all nearby the project stretch — said last week that the variance request should have a new duration and public engagement plan. He advised 48 months instead of 65, and asked for quarterly updates to citizens.

Mayor Michael Hancock is “pleased” to see Kiewit reconsidering its plans.

“This will give the contractor time for additional community engagement,” said mayoral spokeswoman Amber Miller. “This was the right decision.”

Photo courtesy of CDOT

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About the Author

Alex Burness

Alex cut his teeth as the Boulder Daily Camera's city hall reporter and, prior to that, as an education reporter at the Loveland Reporter-Herald. He's interested in city issues, governance and homelessness, and he once spent two months investigating the suspicious death of a backyard rooster. Alex is a D.C. native who's lived in Illinois, Chile and now Denver.

2 Comments

  1. post native drip on said:

    Denver has become a total nightmare.
    One of the worst cities I’ve ever lived in was LA. Denver has become nearly identical.

    It’s amazing how the population and industrial growth swell just kind of crept in (ok, over decades, but it seemingly happened quickly to those that remember the 80’s).

    I’ve lived most of my life in the Denver area, was very nervous to leave & move to a much smaller city, but have no regrets since leaving.
    I read stories like this and just breathe a breath of relief I don’t have to deal with it anymore.

    Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, upper Park Hill, Cole and Clayton – your problems are just starting.

  2. Byron on said:

    There are no easy solutions for transportation problems. Even no-growth restrictions, assuming that those are possible, would not be easy to implement nor fair to all affected parties.

    Face the facts, folks. We have grown, and therefore outgrown, the elevated portion of I-70. That stretch of I-70 was crowded in the 80’s and the expansion that we did to that portion helped solve our problem but we cannot resolve the congestion without making changes that will be disruptive to some folks.

    If you do not want change, go to the ballot box and vote. But that ship has sailed for the I-70 expansion. It will be changed and we need to come to some level of acceptance of that fact. Doing it sooner, rather than postponing it and delaying it, seems to be the logical answer.

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