DENVER (CBS4)– The Federal Highway Administration has approved the Interstate 70 expansion project in the Elyria-Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods in northeast Denver.

CDOT says it’s the final approval needed in the $1.2 billion proposal to remove the existing I-70 viaduct between Colorado and Brighton Boulevards, lower the highway approximately 30 feet below grade, and add toll lanes.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The I-70 expansion projects have been the subject of community-wide controversy in which some people claim CDOT’s plan would destroy the Elyria-Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods.

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An artist's representation of the proposal (credit: CDOT)

An artist’s representation of the proposal (credit: CDOT)

“Improving I-70 will improve the quality of life for thousands in the Denver area, and improve public safety for hundreds of thousands each day,” said Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau in a statement. “This project will make travel safer and more efficient in one of the Rocky Mountain region’s busiest areas, setting the stage for years’ of economic growth.”

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“For the first time since I-70 was opened to travelers in 1964, we are ready to deliver long- overdue safety and mobility improvements that will strengthen this economic lifeline for the region and the state,” said CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt in a statement. “The Central 70 Project also redefines the role of I-70 in local communities, which were originally divided by the interstate 50 years ago.”