Monday, February 17, 2014

Current 1-70 expansion (the cut and cover)

Via email:

From: Jude Aiello
Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2014 12:10 AM
Subject: follow up to your town hall mtg

Dear Representative Duran,
Please excuse the delay of this email. I was unable to attend your town hall mtg as planned due to other commitments.  I hoped one of your legislative budget requests would include funding for a supplemental  environmental impact study (EIS) for the 1-70 reroute proposal. If that wasn't proposed, I would like to request this be included in the budget. 
I came to a meeting you attended where several people discussed with you mitigation measures if the current 1-70 expansion (the cut and cover) goes thru.  However, the more I hear about the potential (I would dare say probable) health and environmental hazards this project will inflict on an already health impacted population, the more convinced I am that no amount of mitigation can make up for the long term damage this will create for these communities. 
Although some at CDOT and in the City claim that the cut and cover is a "done deal", it was not that long ago that another alternative was described the same way.  That previous alternative was abandoned after a huge outcry from the affected communities. This new "done deal" was only put forth in 2012, without the input of the PAC by the way, and after a five time delay the EIS still is not complete and won't be available until at least the end of May.  What happens if the EIS shows that it is too dangerous, or that needed mitigation would be too expensive?  Wouldn't it make send to have an alternate EIS for comparison, not to mention a savings of time if the re-route was chosen as the better plan?
Denver's history is full of decisions which proved to be harmful and extremely expensive both in terms of health consequences and money; decisions that were a "done deal" made by a limited number of politically powerful people:   Rocky Flats not only caused contamination and the ongoing health problems (and lawsuits because of them), but the product produced was never used. Rocky Mountain Arsenal was so contaminated by the uses there that we had to build a new airport almost to Kansas because they couldn't expand the old one onto that land. I-70 was originally suppose to go further north so it wouldn't divide all the communities it has.  It wasn't that these projects weren't opposed.  It was that those in power didn't listen or consider alternatives.
There are many projects that are moving forward in Denver.  They should not just be rubber stamped and any problems arising from them "promised" to be dealt with by "mitigation".  Those serving the people of Denver have an obligation to prevent harm and not just try to deal with its after effects. 
We should learn from past mistakes. I'm sure you remember when the issue of going to war with Iraq was decided.  Those who voted felt obligated to go along with the president and barely questioned the information given to prove the need for it. In fact, although there was info to show  what was being claimed as a reason to go to war was false, that info was withheld.  All the information and options on an issue should be studied instead of preemptively making a decision based on limited data and politically motivated agendas.
I'm sure it's not comfortable going against to those who are politically and economically advantaged, but we are counting on our representatives to do what is in the best interest of the community.
Our leaders have the chance not only to right a wrong by reuniting areas of the city that were divided by the highway, but to open up inner city land to provide much needed housing close to mass transit choices, providing jobs and decreasing energy use and water and air pollution.  All of these are included in Denver's 2020 Sustainability goals, goals that will be much harder to reach with the proposed cut and cover plan.
I would appreciate a reply giving your position on requesting and funding a supplemental EIS on the I-70 re-route option.  My email is  Thank you for your time and attention.  Jude Aiello, a member of Denver Neighborhood Advocates.


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