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Sunday September 15th 2019

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Is the Jefferson Parkway a Road to the Past?


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Smart twenty-first century transportation planning meets the multiple goals of economic, environmental, and social sustainability.  The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County has studied the proposed Jefferson Parkway toll road – with one terminus at the Interlocken Business Park and the other at Colorado 93 north of Golden – and questions whether these goals can be met.

The Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority was formed to complete the Denver metro area beltway after the Colorado Department of Transportation was unable to raise funds and come to agreement about the project’s construction.  Although funding for the toll road itself will come from private investors, the Jefferson Parkway proposal could be a big ticket item for future taxpayers.  Estimated costs for area governmental entities and the Colorado Department of Transportation range from $330 million to more than $500 million.  The money will be needed to construct the interchanges to access both the north and south ends of the toll road.   So Coloradans will assume both that tax liability and a toll to traverse a 10-mile stretch of road that parallels existing roads.

The Authority’s plan includes a right-of-way on the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.  We have requested that the U.S. Department of the Interior require the preparation of a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to update management strategies for the impacts of that transportation easement that were not known when the original EIS was written for the Refuge.  Additionally, new information is needed for the impacts of new proposals for commercial and residential developments on the east, south and west boundaries of the Refuge.  Without the supplemental EIS, we will not know how the latest development plans would impact wildlife habitat and corridors, scenic vistas, air quality and noise…all important considerations for a viable, sustainable refuge environment.

We are very concerned that the public interest will not be served if a “non-compete” clause were included in a contract with a private developer.  There is precedent for this.  The Northwest Parkway Public Highway Authority’s 99-year lease allows the concessionaire to be compensated if road improvements on the arterials lower toll road use, and thus revenues.  Could a similar clause preclude, for example, the building of a light rail line between Golden and Boulder or Interlocken?

For the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County, public transparency is of the utmost importance so that citizens can judge whether we should be building a parkway that does not complete the metro area beltway, and for which there may be more practical alternatives.

Sixty years ago our nation saw roads as paths to prosperity, and that might have been right for the time.  Today, however, we should not be encouraging more driving, more congestion, more sprawl, and further stresses on ecosystems and human health.  Smart, sustainable transportation planning recognizes the interdependence of economic, ecological and social impacts.  It minimizes economic costs, supports a choice of travel modes, and protects the public’s long-term priorities.

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2 Responses to “Is the Jefferson Parkway a Road to the Past?”

  1. Dick Sugg says:

    The LWV is right in most everything they say about the Jefferson Parkway, but have not given all the reasons why the JP is a bad idea–touted as improving regional travel (the Denver metro region is seven-plus counties) when it will not; claimed to be necessary for economic
    growth, but will enrich only land owners, developers, builders, and realtors (who support our elected officials); does nothing to improve traffic through Interlocken or through Golden on two-lane CO 93; will do nothing to ease congestion, as claimed, on Wadsworth;
    will not, as claimed, replace CO 93 as the best route between Golden and Boulder; will increase congestion and delay on CO 93 in Golden, on C-470, and on I-70–and much more. The LWV article was wrong about one thing the same way Jeffco Commissioner Kathy Hartman was. The second paragraph implies that the JP will “complete the
    beltway,” which is not true.

  2. Dick Sugg says:

    See the Denver Post on-line for more comments on the LWV article about the Jeffrson Parkway.

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