DENVER (CBS4) – A widening of I-25 between Santa Fe and 20th Street has long been in the works. The Colorado Department of Transportation says, in the end, it would alleviate traffic for drivers as part of its 10-year plan. However, a group that lives along the construction zone in the Sun Valley neighborhood is trying to pump the brakes on the proposal.
About a dozen protestors gathered with signs in hand on Tuesday morning, saying their neighborhood is already heavily impacted by air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
"Doubling down on highway projects will only make life worse," said Molly McKinley, Policy Director at Denver Streets Partnership.
Jenny Esquibel has suffered from asthma four of the five years she's lived in the area.
"Sun Valley really is a valley. All the pollution gets trapped here in our lungs, our homes, and even our food. Myself, as well as many children and teens that walk around the gulch, have asthma attacks."
She says widening I-25 and adding lanes will only exacerbate her health issues.
Juan Roberto Madrid, Colorado Clean Transportation and Energy Policy Advocate for Green Latinos Colorado, agrees that the long-term plan is detrimental for nearby residents and communities of color.
"I have a 33-year background in public health, ER, ICU, Flight for Life. I saw first-hand not just people with asthma came in during ozone days, where their traditional medicines don't stop an asthma attack. And this widening it would be more displacement for Black and brown, Asian American in this area specifically, that would be disproportionally impacted."
So, the group is calling for more green-friendly options. "Greater investment in multi-modal use. Let's do an increase in bike lanes in RTD, let's get the reliable scheduling for RTD," said Madrid.
CBS4's Mekialaya White checked in with CDOT for a response. Executive director Shoshana Lew gave the following statement: "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."
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