Your guide to the I-70 expansion lawsuits

CDOT director Shailen Bhatt told I-70 opponents that it’s “the American process” to sue, and they have taken him up on that challenge.

Underneath the I-70 viaduct near Josephine Street, April 18, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) elyria swansea; i70; i-70; development; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite;
Underneath the I-70 viaduct near Josephine Street, April 18, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The Federal Highway Administration gave its approval in January 2017 to the widening of I-70 through northeast Denver, but community groups are still fighting hard to stop the expansion. At a meeting in Elyria-Swansea in February, CDOT director Shailen Bhatt told opponents that it’s “the American process” to sue if you don’t like a decision — and they have more than taken him up on that challenge.

There are four lawsuits playing out in local and federal courts that touch on the project in some way, two of them focused on a related drainage project, Platte to Park Hill, and two of them focused on air quality issues and the impact to the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood through which I-70 runs.

Here’s what you need to know:


Explained: The $1.8 billion DIA security line fix, who’s for it, who’s against it and why

DIA definitely needs to change its security operations, but how does the public know whether a $1.8 billion public-private partnership is a good deal?

DIA on a freezing morning, seen driving up to the terminal. Jan. 5, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) dia; airport; snow; weather; cowx; denverite; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty;
DIA on a freezing morning. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The sometimes hundreds of people waiting in line to pass through security at Denver International Airport represent a serious vulnerability that can’t be fixed in the existing configuration of the airport’s Great Hall. A major renovation planned for the main terminal would dramatically reconfigure the security screening area and open up space for a premium shopping area before passengers head off to their gates.

To make this project happen, DIA wants to enter into a 34-year, $1.8 billion agreement with a private consortium headed by Ferrovial, a Spanish giant in the transportation infrastructure world that also manages London’s Heathrow Airport. The Great Hall Partners would oversee all aspects of design and construction, bring a certain amount of private financing to the table, manage the concessions, take a cut of the revenue and get reimbursed by the airport every year for expenses like debt payments and operations and maintenance.

The airport could bond for the entire project at a lower cost, but airport executives believe the deal brings enough benefits to be worth paying a premium for the financing. The greatest of those benefits are protection from cost overruns during construction and coordination among numerous contractors to keep the airport running smoothly during a complex, phased project, DIA CEO Kim Day said.

Against this argument, some community members, labor organizers, airline executives and Denver City Council members have concerns: that pay and benefits won’t be as good for concessions and janitorial staff, that local businesses will get fewer opportunities, that the focus on concessions creates the wrong incentives, that potential changes to the project design could leave the city on the hook not just for change-orders now but for lost revenue to a private company for years to come.

Denver City Council was set to discuss the contract Monday, Aug. 7, but the debate was put off until a public hearing and vote scheduled for the following Monday, Aug. 14. If they don’t approve the contract by Sept. 1, the city will be on the hook for a $9 million penalty to Great Hall Partners.

Here’s what you need to know as this deal moves forward:


Denver’s once-in-a-decade GO Bond transportation vision, explained

Which modes reign supreme in Denver’s 2017 GO Bond package? Here’s a breakdown of how biking, walking, pedestrian and vehicular interests fared.

A view of the Denver skyline from 38th and Blake on June 22, 2017. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite) rino; river north; light rail; freight; downtown; mountains; sunset
A view of the Denver skyline from 38th and Blake on June 22, 2017. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

By now, you’ve probably heard that roughly half of Denver’s $937 million, once-in-a-decade bond funds are earmarked for transportation projects. And if you’ve heard anything about Mayor Michael Hancock’s vision for the city, it’s probably that he’s working towards a multimodal city.

But which modes reign supreme in Denver’s vision for the transportation future? Here’s a breakdown of how biking, walking, pedestrian and vehicular interests fared in the transportation bond proposal. 


Why a nearly $1 billion bond program isn’t enough money for Denver

Denver City Council members are wondering just how much they can squeeze into the 2017 GO bond package, and they’re looking down the road for new revenue.

Playground structures planned for Paco Sanchez Park. A plaza envisioned for Paco Sanchez Park. (City of Denver/Dig Studio/PORT Urbanism/Independent Architecture)
Playground structures planned for Paco Sanchez Park, one of the park projects recommended for funding in the 2017 GO bond. (City of Denver/Dig Studio/PORT Urbanism/Independent Architecture)

When Denver City Council members sat down this week to discuss a proposed $937 million bond program, many of them felt like it just wasn’t enough money.

Denver needs new, permanent revenue streams to adequately fund parks and rec and transportation needs, they said. This bond package is the largest that Denver ever will have presented to its voters, but roughly half of it will go to deferred maintenance. Lots of projects that didn’t make the cut now go into the ongoing capital improvement program budgets of city departments, while new facilities brought online will come with their own operating costs and their own maintenance needs down the road.


Here’s how to vote in Denver so that your vote definitely counts

You might have heard there’s an election in November.

A ballot tent on Bannock Street. June 16, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) voting; vote; ballot; poll; election; denver; colorado; denverite; kevinjbeaty;
Votes go here. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

You might have heard there’s an election in November, perhaps one of the most consequential in a generation or a lifetime or a century or they’re all the same who cares Jill Stein! Depending on your Facebook feed.

We’ve got the answers to what we think are the most common questions about voting in Colorado in 2016. Including: Is it legal to sell my vote?