From the week of January 22
Jared Jacang Maher's "The Battle of the Beltway" was excellent. Westword has covered the beltway fiasco for decades now, giving us more information and insight than Denver's daily newspapers. Fred Harper, the cover illustrator, should tell us if he had anybody in mind when he drew the man in the car. I would guess that it is a composite of some poor, unfortunate user of the Jefferson Parkway in the year 2025: squeezed into his car and squeezed by tolls.
The ill-fated beltway will never die. Maher interviewed beltway opponent Dick Lamm, invoking thoughts that even today, Colorado's Olympic dreams also never seem to die. Sadly, even with a Democrat now on the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners and a president in the White House who promises a new way, highway planners (and campaign contributors) cling to their myopic and special-interest-driven vision while Jeffco politicians cling to the past. Fiddle on.
Governor Ritter and Colorado's legislature should show leadership in these times of change, invoking a vision that scales back expectations rooted in the past and encourages new models of smart growth that put people first instead of real-estate developers (like Candelas, in the accompanying story).
The whole beltway process has degenerated into a regional planning nightmare where the common public good, such as transportation, is being auctioned off by entities such as Broomfield to the highest bidder, like Portuguese-owned Brisas. We have DRCOG (Denver Regional Council of Governments), but their pitiful ineffectiveness in this area needs to be overridden by the governor and the legislature.
The most deceptive aspect of the campaign for the so-called Northwest Parkway is the name itself. It is classic Orwellian doublethink to call this monster highway project a "parkway." It takes an overactive imagination indeed to believe that this asphalt ribbon has anything to do with parks. That is, unless the promoters are referring to all the parking spaces they will need for the new traffic they are hoping to generate.
A rose by any other name smells just as sweet. An enormous highway project stinks of car exhaust regardless of what we call it.
The beltway article points out exactly why we have so much chaos in metro transportation. Golden, Broomfield, Arvada, etc., all have different "solutions," as do the E-470 authority and W-470. Although we have a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), they have only changed the highway department sign on the door. The only entity that stands to gain in the future is the City of Golden. E-470 and W-470 now charge some of the highest tolls in the nation. Even worse, the sale of these toll roads to a foreign company has a "no compete" clause. Golden has understood that the way of the future is in transit-related development.
Incidentally, when C-470 (Centennial Parkway) was removed from the interstate funding process, it freed up funds to build the 16th Street Mall transit way, as well as seven highly successful Park-n-Rides. This is something that the Denver mainstream media has never understood.
We all need to be more creative regarding metro transportation instead of just relying on higher taxes or tolls.
I'm just wondering, at what point does self-serving become outright corruption? Apparently in Jefferson County, when people elected to serve their constituents decide instead to serve only the landowners and developers. This appears to be the case with the Jefferson Porkway.
Toll roads are nothing new. In fact, when this country was founded and government was truly small and inoffensive, it was in the interest of the country for enterprising individuals or even companies to build roads and maintain them at a modest profit. That is not so today.
The idea that a foreign corporation could come into this country and build infrastructure critical to our cities and then profit from that infrastructure to me is tantamount to treason. And any elected official who is a proponent of such action should be tried and convicted of high treason and summarily executed. Putting profit ahead of our cities, counties, states, our nation is a most heinous offense and should be dealt with severely.
The idea that a toll road from Broomfield to Golden is driven by any motive other than profit is specious at best. Jared Jacang Maher's excellent piece on the Jefferson Porkway quoted several officials, notably Kevin McCasky, Bob Frei and Patrick Quinn, as saying that such a road is "critical to economic competitiveness." Competitiveness with whom? Or with what?
Such a road, with limited access, would lead first and foremost to a great, huge sprawl on the northeast quadrant. At the on-ramps would proliferate the usual fast-food joints and chain retailers. How many more Big Lots and Kohl's do we need in this area? How about Linens-N-Things? Oh, yeah, gone! Circuit City? Tits up! Conoco Philips? They haven't even finished moving in and they have already laid off 1,500 workers. How's that for competitive?
People in Jefferson County, Wheat Ridge, Arvada and Broomfield (a johnny-come-lately if there ever was one) would do well to ask their leaders why a few landowners and developers are pulling the strings in their communities. And just by the by, what did the leaders get out of it?
James G. Ayling
What's So Funny?, Adam Cayton-Holland
As a former Westword contributor and reformed journalist myself, I know that hard times have fallen on print journalism. But considering the amount and quality of words that Adam "Famous-Hyphen" Cayton-Holland has given to Westword, and the feedback that these words have provoked from Denver in general, I feel it my duty to comment: Adam is one of the most talented and versatile writers you've had in recent memory, and his column consistently outdid all other recurring articles. Though Westword skips news for hipster reviews, What's So Funny? always kept its sense of self-deprecating self-importance well within scope.
Best-case scenario: The choice to forego Adam's writing is only a symptom of the ailing American economy and literacy, and a minor setback for Adam. Worst-case scenario: It's still only a minor setback for Adam, and Westword is the high school basketball coach who cut Michael Jordan.
Name withheld on request
Editor's note: What's So Funny? is off the bench and back in Backbeat, on page 46.
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