The Central 70 Project spans between Interstate 25 and Chambers Road and is one of Colorado’s economic backbones. It is home to 1,200 businesses, providing the regional connection to Denver International Airport and carrying upwards of 200,000 vehicles each day. Since its August 2018 groundbreaking, the Central 70 Project has reconstructed 10 miles of I-70, added one new Express Lane in each direction, removed the aging 57-year-old viaduct, lowered the interstate, and built a new four-acre park for the surrounding community.
“We are making Colorado roads safer, reducing traffic, and making sure that Coloradans and visitors can get where they are going quickly and easily, including to visit the many thriving businesses along this stretch of road,” Polis said.
CDOT began studying this corridor in 2003 and completed its environmental study 15 years later after significant changes to both the project and stakeholder engagement processes resulting from neighborhood concerns about the environmental and health impacts of the project. As a result of community concerns, CDOT made over 100 unprecedented commitments to the Globeville, Elyria-Swansea communities, contributing a total of $30 million to the community in addition to an overall design that lowers the highway and connects the neighborhood via both the cover park and a network of at-grade bridges with pedestrian access.
These commitments included, but were not limited to:
- Constructing 38,700 linear square feet of ADA-compliant sidewalks, making it possible to safely walk the full length of the project area.
- Providing connectivity throughout the Globeville, Elyria-Swansea communities including the addition of new traffic signals and lights, crosswalks, and pedestrian crossing signals and extending 46th North and South avenues.
- Providing a $2 million affordable housing grant to the Globeville, Elyria-Swansea Affordable Housing Collaborative to support affordable housing in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood.
- Providing $18.5 million worth of improvements to Swansea Elementary School that included two new early childhood education classrooms, a new playground, a new main entrance and parking lot, and new heating and air conditioning.
- Planting 100 trees and additional landscaping along 46th North Avenue and the new cover park.
- Providing interior storm windows and air conditioning units, plus financial assistance for utility costs to residents between 45th and 47th avenues and Brighton to Colorado boulevards to help mitigate dust and noise during construction. More than 260 homes received improvements. This initiative was done in partnership with the City and County of Denver and Energy Outreach Colorado.
- Bringing fresh food access to the GES community that is currently listed as a food desert. This initiative is being done in partnership with the City and County of Denver.
- Ensuring job opportunities for residents through a 20 percent local (geographic-based) hiring requirement while also requiring on-the-job training to provide opportunities for workers to advance to high-skill positions during the construction period.
“The Federal Highway Administration congratulates our partners in Colorado for this beautiful cover park, which brings meaningful infrastructure improvement to Denver’s Globeville and Elyria-Swanson neighborhoods,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The project is a prime example of how transportation projects can reconnect communities rather than just going through them, bringing people-focused infrastructure improvements that will last for generations to come.”
CDOT and Kiewit Meridiam Partners also hosted a grand opening and neighborhood appreciation event to celebrate the community and the new park. The event was attended by approximately 600 people and featured players from the Metro State University Women’s Soccer Team who came to conduct soccer drills for kids in the community on the new full-sized soccer field. This family-friendly event emphasized the importance of ensuring infrastructure projects provide community commitments and interweave them into projects so construction does not create a further burden to communities that were split in half during the original interstate highway system initiative and can feel long-lasting benefits that go beyond just transportation.
“This project is an example of how hard conversations can be productive and help us be better neighbors," said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “The advocacy of community members throughout this project helped CDOT learn to take community feedback seriously and develop state-of-the-art processes for mitigating the impacts of large projects. We thank them for their input and hope they see its results in the finished product."