DENVER (CBS4)– Members of the Shorter Community AME Church in Park Hill are praying for divine intervention on the Central 70 project.
“Today, we lift up a community being threatened with the expansion of a highway,” said Dr. Timothy Tyler, a pastor at the church. “The expansion of I-70 in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhood is an ecological, environmental, and economic threat to neighborhoods that already face extinction and displacement.”
Church members and residents who live in the area say they’ll be affected by the Colorado Department of Transportation’s controversial plan.
Shorter AME sits at MLK Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard. Opponents of the project say the busy intersection will bear the brunt of traffic when construction begins on Interstate 70.
“When it was built in the 60s, it was designed to last to the 1980s. That was back when we had about 3 million people in Colorado,” said CDOT’s Rebecca White. “The bridge has lasted way beyond when it was supposed to, now it’s carrying 200,000 cars a day.”
CDOT says they will follow through with plans to expand a 10-mile stretch of the interstate by next spring.
“We’ve had rods pop off of it, we’ve had sections of the bridge come down,” White explained to CBS4’s Andrea Flores. “That bridge is telling us it’s time to go.”
But construction will come at a price. Hundreds of residents will have to relocate from neighborhoods near the proposed expansion.
“We follow a federal law called The Uniform Act, and that requires us not only to make a fair market value on a home, but in almost all cases we are making up the difference in the price of that home, and the one they choose to move to. For renters, that comes in the form of 42 months, almost four years, of rent differential payment that can be used as a down payment on a home.”
Shorter Community AME says they’ll continue to seek the help of a higher power, and hold out hope for an alternative.
Four lawsuits have been filed against the project, including three federal lawsuits, and one lawsuit against the City of Denver.
CDOT plans to begin construction by spring of 2018.
LINK: Central 70 Project