Colorado’s Jefferson Parkway one of nation’s worst transportation projects
By Bill Roettker
RMC Transportation Specialist
Our Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC) has serious concerns about the proposed $813-million Jefferson Parkway project. We distributed a press release earlier this month, stating why the project should be halted. I’ve included a list of media responses to the release at the end of this article.
Any transportation infrastructure built today will be with us for decades. Jefferson Parkway is an example of infrastructure that will not meet the transportation needs of our citizens. It will keep us shackled to the pump and it should not be part of a 21st century transportation system for our community.
The proposed four-lane, public/private project would build a 10-mile section of toll road beltway around portions of Denver that would keep many Coloradans dependent on oil for their daily transportation needs. The Jefferson County Public Highway Authority project provides commuters with no alternatives to driving, such as transit service or bikeways.
The project is featured in Sierra Club’s new national report: Smart Choices, Less Traffic: 50 Best and Worst Transportation Projects in the United States (PDF).
According to the report, the parkway, which will start several miles from the ends of the existing beltway, was first proposed in the early 1970s when the cost of gas was just 40 cents per gallon. With gas prices approaching $4 per gallon, citizens need affordable alternatives to driving, and the Jefferson Parkway offers no such options. The report further states that traffic is expected to increase on local roads and air pollution will increase near residential neighborhoods and schools in local communities including Broomfield, Golden and Superior.
The report observes that Jefferson Parkway will increase gasoline consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and will open up undeveloped land for sprawling development. Additionally, the proposed route would cut through the eastern edge of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, paving a 300-foot-wide, 3.5-mile-long stretch of the refuge for auto traffic.
Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge was created from the former Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons facility and is closed to the public due to plutonium contamination of its soils. Parkway construction will disturb these soils, endangering the health of residents living downwind of the parkway.
Under Moving Ahead for Progress (MAP) 21, the nation’s new transportation policy (PDF), Colorado has the opportunity to invest in transportation projects that will reduce demand for oil rather than approving projects that increase driving and congestion.
We can no longer afford to build roads that were planned when gasoline was $1 per gallon or less. We know gasoline prices are high and will stay high, so let’s invest in transit, biking and walking projects that will help us save money at the pump and won’t further damage the environment or endanger our health.
On Dec. 21, 2012, a federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit by the towns of Superior and Golden along with two environmental groups, and the project completed its land transfer on December 31. Local governments continue to pursue legal strategies to fight the project.
We have received exceptional media attention from our recent press release, including the following responses that you may want to check out:
9News video report:
KGNU radio interview:
Daily Camera: http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_22693042/sierra-club-jefferson-parkway-one-50-worst-projects
Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_22693042/sierra-club-jefferson-parkway-one-50-worst-projects
Broomfield Enterprise: http://www.broomfieldenterprise.com/ci_22693042/sierra-club-jefferson-parkway-one-50-worst-projects
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