By Mark Taylor

DENVER (CBS4)– A national public interest group is calling a $1.2 billion proposal to widen and toll parts of Interstate 70 one of the most wasteful highway projects in the country.

The report by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group or CoPIRG names a dozen allegedly wasteful spending projects across the country.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“We think it will waste taxpayer dollars to the tune of $58 million,” Danny Katz with CoPIRG said.

The expansion project will expand a 12-mile stretch on I-70 from Tower Road to Interstate 25 by adding at least one lane in each direction.

I-70 COPIRG map

“We think that’s a bad idea,” Katz said of the plan.

In the report CoPIRG claimed more people in Colorado are not driving as much, and are looking for other options. Katz added that the Colorado Department of Transportation is not planning for the future in the right way.

CBS4's Mark Taylor interviews CoPIRG's Danny Katz (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Mark Taylor interviews CoPIRG’s Danny Katz (credit: CBS)

“Those lanes of traffic are not going to solve congestion and they are going to waste taxpayer dollars at a time when we could be using it to be more creative, to more efficiently and effectively move people,” said Katz.

CDOT believes the expansion is what’s right for Colorado’s future.

“The fact is, we are a high growth state,” Rebecca White with CDOT said.

RELATED: CDOT Response To CoPIRG Report

White adds that the added lanes will be express lanes like on Highway 36, “If we don’t do anything, it’s going to take 65 minutes to drive 12 miles on I-70 east.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

CDOT said I-70 is the backbone of Denver, connecting the airport to downtown, to the mountains and even with the new commuter rail line. It must grow as the city grows.

“It’s not handling the traffic we have today let alone the growth we are going to see in the next 20 years,” White said.

CBS4's Mark Taylor interviews CDOT's Rebecca White (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Mark Taylor interviews CDOT’s Rebecca White (credit: CBS)

The I-70 expansion project is open to public comment through February. Construction is set to start as early as 2017.

Mark Taylor is a weekend morning anchor and reporter with CBS4 news covering a wide variety of stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkTaylor_TV.

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