Denver — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reached a new milestone in the environmental study phase of the I-70 East Project with the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which kicks off a 30-day public review period. The FEIS is the last draft of an almost 13-year study analyzing transportation alternatives for the heavily congested I-70 corridor from I-25 to Tower Road prior to a Record of Decision (ROD).
“The FEIS release is a big milestone for our team and for the region,” said CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt. “It’s important to mark this step in a lengthy process that has involved numerous members of the public, community leaders, local jurisdictions, local agencies and the Federal Highway Administration. We recognize and thank everyone involved for their tireless efforts and look forward to completing the study this year.”
In three volumes, the FEIS is a culmination of years of analysis and public input and involvement, and shows the results of further evaluation and refinement of three alternatives; updates and modifies previous analyses; identifies a Preferred Alternative; and responds to comments received on the Supplemental Draft EIS from August 2014. In addition, the FEIS discusses the project’s impacts, including noise and air quality, and how CDOT proposes to address those impacts.
The identified Preferred Alternative in the FEIS is the Partial Cover Lowered Alternative with Managed Lanes Option, which proposes to add new managed (Express) lanes to the interstate, remove the aging 50-year-old viaduct and lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado Boulevards, and place a four-acre landscaped cover over a portion of the lowered interstate. During the study, this option was identified as preferred because it meets the project’s purpose and need, best addresses community concerns, has the most community and agency support, and — with the proposed mitigations — will cause the least overall impact.
“An important purpose of the FEIS is to provide CDOT’s response to the comments we received on the draft study and present refinements to the alternatives based on these comments. Release of the final study is a huge milestone and brings us one step closer to making this project — and the significant improvements it will make to travel along I-70 and the local community — a reality for the Denver metro area,” said Project Director Tony DeVito.
During the review period from Jan. 15 to Feb. 16, 2016, the public can review the FEIS at 17 metro Denver locations, including libraries, city halls and government offices, as well as online at www.i-70east.com and www.codot.gov.
The final step in the environmental study process for the project is the preparation of the ROD, which will document the Federal Highway Administration’s selection of a project for implementation on I-70 East. The ROD is expected in summer 2016. The project is expected to begin construction in late 2017 after a Developer partner is selected to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the project.