By Rick Sallinger

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4) – The City of Broomfield is stepping back, for now, from plans to build the Jefferson County Parkway. It’s to be a toll road to continue the beltway being built around Denver.

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The action comes after soil testing where the highway would be found one test result with an elevated level of plutonium. If it was indeed plutonium it most likely came from the former nuclear weapons plant Rocky Flats which is nearby.

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(credit: CBS)

Plutonium can be deadly and the test result found more than five times the standard acceptable limit. Another portion from the same sample turned up a much lower level of radiation.

Now, the City of Broomfield has informed residents in a notice on its website, “Given the recent test results and the Council’s feedback the Parkway is not moving forward at this time.”

Jeff Staniszewski, one of the leaders of the group Stop the Jefferson Parkway, told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger, “it’s encouraging, but we much would have preferred a vote which would have shut down further funding.”

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The parkway is to be built right behind Staniszewski’s back yard.

The Rocky Flats Nuclear weapons plant was shutdown in the late 1980s and was the subject of a major cleanup effort.

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The tests for possible radiation were ordered by the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority. David Beacom is a Broomfield Councilman who represents the city on the Authority.

He feels the Parkway is badly needed as an economic engine and will help reduce traffic congestion on the interstate highways.

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“If it’s safe that’s what it will do; take the burden off a lot of people and make it much more easy to get from the north of Denver to the south and the mountains,” Beacom said.

More than 200 soil samples are being taken. The parkway authority says it will wait for analysis by the state health department which will determine the next steps for the highway.

Broomfield is a governmental partner with Jefferson County and Arvada in the Parkway project. The next step is to lay the groundwork to send out requests for proposals to find a private partner on the parkway project.

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Broomfield’s action could delay that for several months.

Rick Sallinger