High Country EarthFirst! Kicks Off “Stop I-70 Expansion” Campaign

June 15, 2009

original post May 28, 2009 at Colorado Indymedia

High Country EarthFirst! kicked off its campaign to stop the Interstate 70 expansion in Denver. A banner over the Colorado Blvd overpass, “Stop I-70 Expansion”, was dropped by EF!ers on 5/26/09 during afternoon rush hour traffic. HCEF! is calling for an immediate cancelling of all plans by the Colorado Department of Transportation to expand capacity or build a permanent detour of I-70 through north Denver.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has decided to expand Interstate 70, the main east/west freeway through Denver, from its intersection with I-25 to Quebec street. There are two main proposals being considered by CDOT. The first would expand the current viaduct from six to ten lanes and keep I-70 in its current location. The second proposal, and the one favored by the power brokers in Denver, is to reroute (detour) I-70 north from its intersection with I-25 along the Platte river/Brighton boulevard area, and then connect up with highway 270 to where in reconnects with the current I-70 path at Quebec street. This expansion/detour would be eight lanes and add roughly 2 miles to the length of I-70 through this section. The cost for these proposals ranges from 1.25 to 2 billion dollars. Either expansion would gut the neighborhoods of Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea, and increase air pollution in other North Denver neighborhoods. These plans are discussed in detail in the Environmental Impact Statement which can be found at http://www.i-70east.com/reports.html

It is no accident that when I-70 was built it was routed through low-income neighborhoods of color; the expansion is no different. CDOT’s main proposal would demolish over 50 homes, displace more than 50 employers (including the Denver Coliseum and the National Stock Show which employ many local residents, and one of two grocers in the area), and bring increased air pollution (a minimum additional 440,000 vehicle miles a day) to an area already plagued by dozens of major polluters, including the Xcel Cherokee Coal Power Plant and the SunCor Oil Refinery. The expansion would also destroy over 300 acres of habitat to mule deer, white tail deer, bald eagle wintering grounds, prairie dog homes, and destroy much of the remaining green space in the area. The I-70 permanent detour will drastically increase gasoline consumption by 6 million gallons per year in a time of dwindiling supplies and the global climate crisis, as well as worsening air quality for all denver residents.

CDOT hopes that the expansion of I-70 would not just reduce traffic congestion along the immediate route but also increase cross-country trucking through the area (and thereby increasing congestion). Currently, truckers avoid traveling through Denver because of the frequent delays along this stretch of highway causing millions in extra costs annually; expansion would supposedly alleviate congestion and increase the speed for through-truckers. This would bring even more air pollution and risk as hazardous waste is shipped through Denver, getting on and off the Interstate to stop at truck stops and diners. Expansion would also fuel the growth of the suburbs east of Denver, completely unsustainable development that does ecological and economic damage.

The I-70 expansion is part of the greater picture, one where poor people and communities of color are systemically oppressed by the state for the continued privilege of white people and the wealthy. Infrastructure expansion doesn’t meet the needs of underserved communities and only furthers their destruction. The I-70 expansion is no different; a low income community of color would be disrupted and displaced to serve the needs of a capitalist white supremacy. EF! is committed to bio-centracism and deep ecology, beliefs grounded in the fact that no life and no ecosystem is more important than another. We believe that this applies not just to ecosystems and animals, but should apply to all humans and communities. HCEF!D stands in solidarity with all people struggling for self-determination, and we work to abolish these oppressive systems to achieve universal liberation.

If you are interested in getting involved with HCEF!D, please email highcountryearthfirst@riseup.net to find out ways for you to participate.

Stop I-70 Expansion!
High Country EarthFirst!

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