The Colorado Department of Transportation is partnering with a nonprofit focused on traffic mitigation on ways to lessen single-occupancy commuter traffic during the Interstate 70 expansion project in northeast Denver.
Among the Northeast Transportation Connection's "core strategies" for reducing traffic are pushing public transportation, carpooling and "active transportation," as well as such alternatives as running and...skating, according to its website.
"Maybe that would work in Stapleton," jokes Rebecca White, CDOT's Central 70 project deputy. But pushing for any sort of non-vehicular commuting — much less skating — in northeast Denver, which hardly has adequate sidewalk infrastructure, would be a stretch.
White explains that NETC, whose representatives did not return our messages, would tailor its traffic-management program for the I-70 project to the communities it would most impact, including Montbello and Elyria-Swansea. For example, the nonprofit could use an RTD bus to shuttle residents of those neighborhoods, which are mostly food deserts, to grocery stores. It will tout carpooling at community lunches it will host in the neighborhoods, to encourage residents to ride to work together. NETC is also recommending that employers in the area "compress" their work weeks, to forty hours in four days or eighty hours in nine days, to reduce the number of commuters and incentivize employees to take public transportation or to carpool. Some residents might be eligible for free bus passes.
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White says similar single-occupancy traffic-mitigation programs alleviated traffic during projects on I-25 and US 36. (We've requested quantifiable data to prove the success of those programs and will update this post if and when we get it.)
Although some lawsuits against the project are still pending, CDOT is moving ahead with plans for the reconstruction of I-70 stretching from the I-25 intersection to Chambers Road. The projects would include widening the highway between Chambers and Quebec Street, fully reconstructing I-70 between Quebec and Brighton, and lowering the highway between Colorado and Brighton boulevards. A fifty-year-old viaduct between Brighton and Colorado would be removed.
The single-occupancy traffic-mitigation program is launching six to eight months ahead of when CDOT plans to start construction on the I-70 project so that residents can become accustomed to the changes; it will last for at least four years. And the hope is that the good habits it encourages will last even longer, White says.
No word if residents will get vouchers for roller-skate repair.