CDOT Settles $500,000+ I-70 Lawsuit With Neighborhoods, Environmental Groups

<p>(Nathaniel Minor/CPR News)</p>
<p>This viaduct carries Interstate 70 through north Denver.</p>
Photo: Globeville 3 | Interstate 70 Viaduct
This viaduct carries Interstate 70 through north Denver.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has settled a lawsuit against the massive Interstate 70 construction project in north Denver.

Plaintiffs included the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods and various environmental organizations.

"The project is free and clear now," CDOT spokeswoman Stacia Sellers said.

The plaintiffs alleged that CDOT didn't thoroughly study the potential pollution impacts on the neighboring communities.

When construction on the I-70 expansion broke ground in August, critics dismissed the event and vowed to continue their fight.

But as construction moved forward, the plaintiffs knew they needed to settle, sad Lloyd Burton, the Sierra Club's environmental justice team leader.

"By the time the courts came to any final determination, the project would be about half built. And so what we were most concerned with was doing something now that would benefit the communities now," Lloyd said.

The settlement includes $550,000 for a comprehensive and independent health study for the Globeville, Elyria and Swansea neighborhoods. Additional money will go toward planting trees and vines along the highway and ongoing best practices.

“After years of advocacy by hundreds of neighborhood residents and other volunteers to address health disparities faced by north Denver residents, we are pleased with the outcome of this settlement,” said Drew Dutcher, president of the Elyria and Swansea Neighborhood Association, in a statement.

Construction on I-70 started last summer and is expected to take four years to complete.