I-70 East Project Completes Comment Period, Begins Work on Final EIS

November 20, 2014 - Denver Metro/CDOT Region 1 - CDOT places hundreds of comments received during comment period on project website.

DENVER– The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) received almost 900 comments on the latest version of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its Interstate 70 (I-70) East Project during the recently concluded public comment period.

To ensure that its decision-making is transparent, CDOT today made available all of the comments it received on its project website, www.i-70east.com. The majority of comments came from around the metro Denver area with 125 from neighborhoods most directly impacted by the project.  A map on the website shows where comments originated. The website does not include responses to the comments, which will be included in the Final EIS in late 2015.

In the most recent draft of the EIS, CDOT preliminarily identified a preferred alternative that would remove the 50-year-old viaduct between Brighton Blvd. and Colorado Blvd., lower the highway below grade, add two tolled express lanes in each direction between I-25 and Tower Rd., and build an almost four-acre landscaped cover over the interstate by Swansea Elementary School. Community leaders helped develop the alternative during a decade-long public process.

“The number of comments CDOT received certainly reflects the level of interest in this project and it is not unusual to receive hundreds of comments on a project of this size,” said Kirk Webb, I-70 East NEPA manager. “Studies of other large highway projects in Colorado have also received hundreds of comments, both positive and negative.”

Comments were gathered at three public hearings in Aurora, Commerce City and Denver, which drew 250 participants. Comments also could be submitted via mail, email, the project website and at the project office, located in the corridor.

“Providing access to all of the comments on the internet is unprecedented in Colorado,” said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt. “Because of the intense interest this project has received, we are making public all of the comments we received, so everyone can review them. We are committed to transparency as we work through the NEPA process.”

CDOT is now focused on completing the environmental study required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Another important part of this study is determining a funding plan for the project. Thus, CDOT recently began a public process to also explore different options for paying for the project.

“To finish our NEPA process, we need a funding plan to explain how we will pay for the project,” said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt. “Receiving public input on the options available to the Department is important, particularly as we consider innovative financing options.”

The funding plan will be included in the Final EIS, which CDOT plans to complete in late 2015. In the Final EIS, CDOT also will respond to all comments it received in the recent public comment period, and will identify the preferred alternative, impacts and mitigations.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is expected to issue a Record of Decision finalizing the process in 2016.

The project team continues to hold regular monthly meetings with community leaders to discuss the project. The I-70 East website www.i-70east.com lists upcoming meetings.