Denver Votes to Ditch I-70 Viaduct

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DALLAS - The Denver City Council has thrown its support behind a $1.8 billion plan to lower Interstate 70 through north Denver, replacing the current viaduct with a park built on a freeway deck.

The council voted 10-3 on April 14 for a proclamation endorsing the project, which goes before the Colorado Transportation Commission in June.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is studying 12.2 miles of I-70 that runs from Aurora to north Denver. For much of that stretch the freeway is a six-lane viaduct through a low-income industrial section of Denver and Adams County suburbs.

CDOT is the process of identifying funding, with a large share expected from federal grants.

The viaduct built in the early 1960s is nearing the end of its service, according to CDOT. One part of the replacement plan would include an 800-foot section of covered freeway upon which a park or open space could be built.

Dallas accomplished a similar feat with its Woodall Rodgers Freeway, installing a park atop a section of the freeway near downtown in 2012. The 5.2-acre Klyde Warren Park attracted nearly 1 million visitors in its first year, according to park officials.

Denver's I-70 viaduct is considered an eyesore that creates a barrier between the Swansea and Elyria neighborhoods. The viaduct also impairs views of the National Western Stock Show grounds.

CDOT and the Federal Highway Administration expect to issue a record of decision for the freeway redevelopment in 2015 with construction likely to start in 2016, officials said.

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