DENVER -- A meeting between Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials and residents Thursday evening regarding the $1.2 billion I-70 expansion project got off to a rocky start.
Opponents wore black face masks to make a statement about their concerns with air pollution in the area and a group of community leaders and residents brought in their own microphone, then proceeded to address the room before CDOT officials were scheduled to talk inside the Swansea Recreation Center.
The night quickly turned into a public venting session.
CDOT's executive director, Shailen Bhatt, took questions from the audience but he was interrupted several times during the course of the meeting.
"There’s 200,000 people a day on I-70 who are desperate for us to widen the highway, anxious for this project to go," said Bhatt.
Bhatt said the I-70 viaduct that runs through a predominately Hispanic neighborhood is coming down one way or another. He added the bridge is the worst in CDOT's inventory and added that tension rods meant to extend the life have been snapping off.
Many residents in the area showed up to the meeting with their kids. One of their main concerns continues to be health. On Thursday, a new study showed the neighborhood along I-70 was home to the most toxic zip code in the U.S.
"Once we get the traffic that is grid locked down here, moving the air quality we believe will improve," said Bhatt.
Three lawsuits involving various aspects of the expansion project are currently pending.