DENVER (KDVR) — The Interstate 25 corridor is one of the most-trafficked north-south highways west of the Mississippi River, and with Colorado’s booming population, the Colorado Department of Transportation has been studying how to improve the corridor that runs through Denver for some time.

The segment of the highway spanning Santa Fe to 20th Street saw roughly 261,000 cars per day in 2020 according to CDOT. With more congestion and a projected increase in crashes by 15-20% by 2040, CDOT has come up with three different recommendations to improve traffic, safety and mobility through that stretch.

Some of those recommendations include expanding the highway by creating wider shoulders and adding express and HOV lanes through the stretch. Advocates for communities that live near those stretches are now pushing back on that idea.

A group of local advocates in the Sun Valley neighborhood is calling on CDOT to scrap the I-25 central expansion project from the department’s 10-year plan, saying it will have a disproportionate pollution impact on the community and have an effect on the quality of life.

“Doubling down on highway projects will only make life worse for residents of the Denver metro area region including communities like Sun Valley which are already the most heavily impacted by air pollution, burdensome household transportation costs, and increase greenhouse gas emissions,” Molly McKinley from Denver Streets Partnership said.

CDOT’s proposal has not been voted on or approved but it would add more lanes, add more bridges, and cost around $1.5 billion to complete.

“We in the community do not need more cars moving on new lanes. What we need are more buses that are efficient in getting us to our jobs, doctors, schools or wherever, or wherever we need to go,” Jenny Esquibel, Sun Valley neighborhood resident said.

CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew responded to the concerns of the public saying:

We are actively discussing the state’s transportation needs with the public, stakeholders and advocacy groups, local government and regional planners, and those discussions will inform the work CDOT proposes in the coming update to our 10-year plan of strategic projects. We will continue to engage with the public as we confirm our priorities for the coming years and then dig into the details of the projects in the plan.

We very much appreciate the concerns that stakeholders are raising and believe that all prospective projects — but especially those traversing places where people live — must be evaluated with a careful eye towards greenhouse gas emissions and environmental justice, as amplified by Senate Bill 260 last year. We thank our neighbors for making their voices heard and look forward to a candid dialogue about what works for this neighborhood.

Due to technical difficulties, we will upload the press conference once it becomes available.