Denver bypasses stimulus sprawl

What kind of infrastructure projects will federal stimulus money pay for in the Denver metro area? Are there any highways to nowhere, any multi-laners to yet-to-be built exurb paradises on the prairie?

In Houston, a large chunk of the federal money will go toward cutting a four-lane highway into the prairie surrounding the city, setting the stage for even more subdivision housing and even longer commutes — should the housing markets ever rebound, that is, and should Houstonians of the future decide they want to buy those kind of homes and live the even greater sprawl life, which may be doubtful.

Colorado seems to have a done a pretty good job at posting most of the projects online so residents can make their own assessments.

There’s an interactive map of stimulus road projectes here, for example. And there’s a pdf of Denver Regional Conference of Governments (DRCOG) metro-region projects here.

A first look suggests those responsible for allocating funds in Denver have done of good job of not using the money to increase sprawl, using it instead to fund maintenance projects like repaving highways, firming up bridges and creating interchanges. I don’t see any new bazillion-dollar outer-band beltway roads to middle-of-nowhere owned by “friends of lawmakers” that’s just “prime” for development…. But maybe I missed something.

In fact, the only road near Denver scheduled for widening appears to be US 85, which heads south out of the city. It will be increased from two to four lanes with a median, all for $7.2 million.

Steven D. Rudy, transportation planning and operations director for DRCOG, said this is the case because there were forward-looking plans in place. He said his organization is spending the $60 million in stimulus money it was allotted on projects that followed from a “Metrovision Plan” adopted in 2007.

That means, basically, that DRCOG is using its stimulus funding to support the region’s FasTracks plan. It’s all there in the PDF. The organization will spend roughly $5 million on pedestrian and bike “enhancements” and $55 million on surface transportation, of which the lion’s share — $18.6 million — will go to increasing access to Denver’s Union Station for pedestrians, bikers and park-and-ride drivers.

Then again: Fie on your government handouts!

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