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Greenhouse gas reductions drive decision to scrap plans for new toll lanes through metropolitan highways 


Governing Magazine points attention to a decision last week by the Denver Regional Council of Governments to exclude new tolled lanes on Interstate 25 through the central metro area as well as C-470.

They will get improvements at key access points and interchanges to improve safety and traffic flow but the $900 million previously identified for highway expansions will be redirected to complete a bus rapid-transit corridor in the Denver area and other projects.

The revised plan was triggered by a new rule issued late last year by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The rule requires Colorado’s five metropolitan planning organizations – including the nine-county organization in the Denver-Boulder area – to measure greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and make plans to reduce them.

Danny Katz, director of the Colorado branch of the Public Interest Research Group, told Governing that opposition to the highway widening had been growing, including from the neighborhoods of Sun Valley and Valverde. They have high rates of asthma and air pollution.

“It doesn’t solve congestion, and it brings noise and pollution,” Katz said. “What we don’t need is more cars on the road.”

He also credited C-DOT for “adopting a greenhouse gas rule and recognizing that you can go down a different path.”

Los Angles also recently made a similar decision. But Co-PIRG, in a recent report, points out that federal funding can still be used to reinforce the road-building status quo, and many states intend to do so.

Photo: Interstate 25 near downtown Denver on a November 2021 evening/Allen Best

Allen Best
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