I-70 expansion plan getting mixed reactions from residents

Posted on: 6:04 am, March 9, 2012, by and , updated on: 09:47am, March 9, 2012

DENVER — Plans to expand Interstate 70 east by the end of the decade are driving home real concerns for nearby residents.

Not only could dozens of families lose their homes, but many fear property values could plummet.

The expansion would affect the Globeville, Swansea and Elyria neighborhoods in Denver.

And if this proposal passes the neighborhoods would essentially be wiped off the map. Some residents are OK with the plan because it means a buyout, but many others say there has to be a better way.

“You know, hopefully we’re all treated well and get what we need,” says David Sanchez with Stop and Shop food store.

The store has been located in the shadow of I-70 for decades. Sanchez knows the state will help him relocate, but not everyone is sold on the idea.

“People are confused,” says Elyria resident Drew Dutcher, who opposes the plan. “People are tired. People don’t know what to think.”

The plan means the loss of more than 65 homes and businesses. For Dutcher, it means I-70 will move to within 200 feet of his home.

“Sometimes the people whose houses that are taken are sometimes better off because they get compensated. It’s who is left, and there is no compensation for them,” Dutcher says.

Like Dutcher, Mark Wonder was just one of the dozens of residents at Swansea Elementary School Thursday night.

“In my opinion, I want them to go north. Will my house be taken? Absolutely,” Wonder says.

Colorado Department of Transportation representatives were there, too.

“We did hear from the city,” says CDOT’s Kirk Webb. “For tax reasons and job reasons, they want us to shift north. We also heard from the community. In order to save the school, they’d like us to shift south.”

Webb knows the plan isn’t perfect, but says the aging nearby bridge must be replaced. He acknowledges that doing so means there is no happy medium.

Wonder agrees.

“Something has to happen before that highway (bridge) decides to come down,” he says.

According to CDOT, the bridge only has 10 to 15 years of life left in its current condition.

By expanding it to the north, 90 homes and businesses are affected. Expanding it to the south reduces those affected to 65.