Last night, the Denver Regional Council of Governments, popularly known as DRCOG, held a public hearing on the Jefferson Parkway, a controversial toll road that may take commuters for a ride of a different sort, as Jared Jacang Maher documented in a January feature.
Golden mayor Jacob Smith, a Parkway adversary who represents his community on the DRCOG board, says the sixty or so folks who spoke at the hearing were pretty much evenly divided on the plan -- and he sees that as a good sign.
"Several years ago, I think it would have been more lopsided in favor of it," Smith says. "A lot of people support the idea of a beltway, but when they figure out what this particular proposal would do, they end up opposing it."
Smith's problems with the Parkway go beyond its expense, which he puts in the "billion-dollar ballpark."
First rub: "It doesn't actually complete or connect to anything. It's a disconnected stub of a road that dumps traffic into Interlocken and Flatiron Crossing on the north -- it ends at 128th -- and onto Highway 93 near 64th on the south. So it's actually miles from C-470. It's in the middle -- a weird, disconnected road to nowhere."
Just as important, in his view, is its impact on existing roads.
"By their own analysis, it'll add close to 40 percent more traffic on Highway 93," he says. "If you think 93 is dangerous now, this will actually make it much, much worse. And it increases congestion on almost every road in northwest metro Denver, to no positive effect, and with many negative effects. So this is very much about promoting development at the expense of a good transportation system."
For more information, check out a map showing potentially crippling traffic increases, a second map emphasizing the disconnection issue, and a document about missing roadway links -- handouts distributed at the meeting by those who share Smith's views.
Smith adds that there's an alternative to the Jefferson Parkway -- the so-called 6/93 Corridor Plan, which is endorsed by Golden, the City and County of Boulder, and the town of Superior.
The pitch? "Basically, everything between Boulder and C-470 would get fixed under our proposal," Smith says. "It will make better connections, which is part of the point, instead of creating new problems on Highway 93."
A decision to move forward with the Parkway or put on the brakes is scheduled to be made at a meeting on January 20, and a lot remains in flux.
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"If you went down the line and talked to every member of the DRCOG board, you'd find that some folks have already made up their mind in favor, a good number are opposed, and a good number are in the middle," Smith allows. "But everyone got a chance to hear a lot of people speak their mind last night, and I think the board's in good shape to go through the process to make a decision."
Does he have a guess as to who'll prevail?
"I have no idea," he says -- but he certainly hopes his proposal wins the day. Learn more about it by clicking here.