Environment

Significant controversies surround the environmental impacts from the redevelopment of I-70 East. Rebecca White, the communications director for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) promotes the idea that with the highway moving underground, the traffic will create its own air pathway, allowing air pollution to move continuously under the cover and away from the Swansea Elementary school. The science behind this reasoning is nowhere to be found online in regards to this project. Groups that oppose the redevelopment include the Unite North Metro Denver (UNMD). UNMD believes that increased cars on the highway will result in poor air quality for the surrounding neighborhoods such as Swansea and, in particular, for Swansea Elementary School. According to White, air quality has already become a top priority of the city; monitors controlling pollution are currently up and running along the highway near the viaduct and also on the Swansea Elementary property. Additionally, the selected developer will be required to use construction equipment with modern Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved pollution controls or to modify  their fleet to add these controls. CDOT plans to partner with the Regional Air Quality Council to provide a funding pool for pollution control modifications. However, the UNMD has joined the Sierra Club in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the redevelopment of the I-70 East Project over weakened air standards endangering Denver. According to a 2014 report from the Denver Department of Environmental Health, residents in the north Denver neighborhoods adjacent to I-70 experience a 70% greater rate of mortality from heart disease than residents living in Denver neighborhoods elsewhere. In addition to heart disease, there’s a 40% greater frequency of urgent care visits for children suffering from severe asthma compared to other parts of Denver. The plaintiffs claim widening the highway to allow for more cars on road will have an increase of negative health impacts, especially on seniors and children in the primarily minority and low-income communities of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea.

Significant controversies surround the environmental impacts from the redevelopment of I-70 East. Rebecca White, the communications director for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) promotes the idea that with the highway moving underground, the traffic will create its own air pathway, allowing air pollution to move continuously under the cover and away from the Swansea Elementary school. The science behind this reasoning is nowhere to be found online in regards to this project. Groups that oppose the redevelopment include the Unite North Metro Denver (UNMD). UNMD believes that increased cars on the highway will result in poor air quality for the surrounding neighborhoods such as Swansea and, in particular, for Swansea Elementary School. According to White, air quality has already become a top priority of the city; monitors controlling pollution are currently up and running along the highway near the viaduct and also on the Swansea Elementary property. Additionally, the selected developer will be required to use construction equipment with modern Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved pollution controls or to modify  their fleet to add these controls. CDOT plans to partner with the Regional Air Quality Council to provide a funding pool for pollution control modifications. However, the UNMD has joined the Sierra Club in filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency to stop the redevelopment of the I-70 East Project over weakened air standards endangering Denver. According to a 2014 report from the Denver Department of Environmental Health, residents in the north Denver neighborhoods adjacent to I-70 experience a 70% greater rate of mortality from heart disease than residents living in Denver neighborhoods elsewhere. In addition to heart disease, there’s a 40% greater frequency of urgent care visits for children suffering from severe asthma compared to other parts of Denver. The plaintiffs claim widening the highway to allow for more cars on road will have an increase of negative health impacts, especially on seniors and children in the primarily minority and low-income communities of Globeville, Elyria and Swansea.


Given the location of the National Western Center Campus, it’s likely that there are environmental problems that will be found during redevelopment. The area was once home to metal smelting, heavy industry, two major highways, railroad yards, and waste was disposed of in low areas along the river. It’s likely that polluted soils and/or groundwater will be found during the construction of the NWC. The biggest environmental issues outlined in the plan include: air quality, odors, noise, surface water pollution, groundwater pollution, and soil pollution. To address these issues, the plan will include proposals to improve drainage, sewage and water quality systems. Environmental studies will also be needed as part of the redevelopment to treat polluted areas and manage cleanup, however the environmental issues impacting the broad area surrounding the NWC, like noise and air pollution, are expected to remain during and after redevelopment of the site. Possible human health concerns due to land pollution can be improved as part of the redevelopment, although the plan does not state how. Redevelopment of the area will create new green and healthy spaces and improve the environment and health of the South Platte River while also increasing access to it. The plan for the NWC aims to find new solutions to its energy needs by contracting with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which will develop an energy plan for the campus using solar panels, geothermal heat, and wind turbines with the goal of the NWC creating more energy than it uses.

Given the location of the National Western Center Campus, it’s likely that there are environmental problems that will be found during redevelopment. The area was once home to metal smelting, heavy industry, two major highways, railroad yards, and waste was disposed of in low areas along the river. It’s likely that polluted soils and/or groundwater will be found during the construction of the NWC. The biggest environmental issues outlined in the plan include: air quality, odors, noise, surface water pollution, groundwater pollution, and soil pollution. To address these issues, the plan will include proposals to improve drainage, sewage and water quality systems. Environmental studies will also be needed as part of the redevelopment to treat polluted areas and manage cleanup, however the environmental issues impacting the broad area surrounding the NWC, like noise and air pollution, are expected to remain during and after redevelopment of the site. Possible human health concerns due to land pollution can be improved as part of the redevelopment, although the plan does not state how. Redevelopment of the area will create new green and healthy spaces and improve the environment and health of the South Platte River while also increasing access to it. The plan for the NWC aims to find new solutions to its energy needs by contracting with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which will develop an energy plan for the campus using solar panels, geothermal heat, and wind turbines with the goal of the NWC creating more energy than it uses.


For many years, the residents of Globeville have been concerned about the environmental quality of their neighborhood due to contamination from smelters, heavy industry, highway pollution, and railroad yards. These factors have affected air, water, and soil quality, and produce harmful levels of noise. At the beginning of the neighborhood planning process for Globeville, focus groups asked the residents of Globeville about their perceptions, opinions, and attitudes towards key issues within the neighborhood. Community members have shown a strong desire to improve the overall environmental conditions of the neighborhood. This will require that redevelopment plans for the Globeville community outline a buffer zone between the industrial and residential areas of the neighborhood. In order to improve environmental qualities in Globeville, the development of strong partnerships with organizations responsible for the redevelopment of the area is necessary. In addition,  successful redevelopment will require continued monitoring of air, water, and soil quality, noise pollution, and odors.

For many years, the residents of Globeville have been concerned about the environmental quality of their neighborhood due to contamination from smelters, heavy industry, highway pollution, and railroad yards. These factors have affected air, water, and soil quality, and produce harmful levels of noise. At the beginning of the neighborhood planning process for Globeville, focus groups asked the residents of Globeville about their perceptions, opinions, and attitudes towards key issues within the neighborhood. Community members have shown a strong desire to improve the overall environmental conditions of the neighborhood. This will require that redevelopment plans for the Globeville community outline a buffer zone between the industrial and residential areas of the neighborhood. In order to improve environmental qualities in Globeville, the development of strong partnerships with organizations responsible for the redevelopment of the area is necessary. In addition,  successful redevelopment will require continued monitoring of air, water, and soil quality, noise pollution, and odors.


For many years, the residents of Elyria and Swansea have been concerned about the environmental quality of their neighborhoods due to contamination from smelters, heavy industry, highway pollution, and railroad yards. These factors have affected air, water, and soil quality, and produce harmful levels of noise. At the beginning of the neighborhood planning process for Elyria and Swansea, focus groups asked the residents of Elyria and Swansea, business owners, and neighborhood supporters  about their perception of existing conditions in the neighborhoods and about their  future desired changes for the neighborhoods. Community members of Elyria and Swansea indicated that they would like to see overall environmental factors addressed (including undesirable smells from industries such as Purina, marijuana grow facilities and Suncor), air quality concerns addressed from I-70 and industries, review of the elementary school’s close proximity to I-70, and they want something done about the properties that have not been environmentally remediated (mostly industrial). The desired changes will require future neighborhood plans for Elyria and Swansea to be designed to improve environmental quality by outlining a buffer zone between industrial and residential areas of the neighborhoods. In order to improve environmental qualities in Elyria and Swansea, the development of strong partnerships with organizations responsible for the redevelopment of the areas is necessary. In addition, successful redevelopment will require continued monitoring of air, water, and soil quality, noise pollution, and odors.

For many years, the residents of Elyria and Swansea have been concerned about the environmental quality of their neighborhoods due to contamination from smelters, heavy industry, highway pollution, and railroad yards. These factors have affected air, water, and soil quality, and produce harmful levels of noise. At the beginning of the neighborhood planning process for Elyria and Swansea, focus groups asked the residents of Elyria and Swansea, business owners, and neighborhood supporters  about their perception of existing conditions in the neighborhoods and about their  future desired changes for the neighborhoods. Community members of Elyria and Swansea indicated that they would like to see overall environmental factors addressed (including undesirable smells from industries such as Purina, marijuana grow facilities and Suncor), air quality concerns addressed from I-70 and industries, review of the elementary school’s close proximity to I-70, and they want something done about the properties that have not been environmentally remediated (mostly industrial). The desired changes will require future neighborhood plans for Elyria and Swansea to be designed to improve environmental quality by outlining a buffer zone between industrial and residential areas of the neighborhoods. In order to improve environmental qualities in Elyria and Swansea, the development of strong partnerships with organizations responsible for the redevelopment of the areas is necessary. In addition, successful redevelopment will require continued monitoring of air, water, and soil quality, noise pollution, and odors.


Environmental concerns in the area around Brighton Boulevard include: portions of the Vasquez Boulevard/Interstate-70 Superfund Site, junk yards, historic landfills, industrial operations including auto repair and manufacturing, leaking underground storage tanks, and other previous land use such as a tannery, foundries, iron works, paint manufacturing, wood processing and former gas stations. The area used to include the Omaha-Grant smelter. Consequently, lead and arsenic are believed to be present in the area. No official investigation has been done, but an EPA study in 2003 that collected soil and groundwater data found high lead levels in the soils. Other more issues include drainage problems and overhead utility lines. The Delgany Common Sewer is one of two sewers in the area and has multiple deficiencies. The majority of roadways are missing curbs and gutters, sidewalks, medians, bike lanes, and walkable paths. Existing storm drain facilities are old and many do not meet current City and county of Denver drainage criteria and the streets do not provide effective drainage without curbs and gutters. Major roadway drainage systems are nonexistent or poor quality, leading to runoff issues and water quality concerns. Water quality enhancement has been included in the open space along the South Platte River in order to improve the quality of the water flowing into the river. Traffic in the area is estimated to go up 2% - 3% per year over the next 10 years. The plan will not address most of the environmental problems, including soil pollution, spillover impacts from new business uses to adjacent residential development (such noise-pollution), drainage issues, and any increased industrial uses.

Environmental concerns in the area around Brighton Boulevard include: portions of the Vasquez Boulevard/Interstate-70 Superfund Site, junk yards, historic landfills, industrial operations including auto repair and manufacturing, leaking underground storage tanks, and other previous land use such as a tannery, foundries, iron works, paint manufacturing, wood processing and former gas stations. The area used to include the Omaha-Grant smelter. Consequently, lead and arsenic are believed to be present in the area. No official investigation has been done, but an EPA study in 2003 that collected soil and groundwater data found high lead levels in the soils. Other more issues include drainage problems and overhead utility lines. The Delgany Common Sewer is one of two sewers in the area and has multiple deficiencies. The majority of roadways are missing curbs and gutters, sidewalks, medians, bike lanes, and walkable paths. Existing storm drain facilities are old and many do not meet current City and county of Denver drainage criteria and the streets do not provide effective drainage without curbs and gutters. Major roadway drainage systems are nonexistent or poor quality, leading to runoff issues and water quality concerns. Water quality enhancement has been included in the open space along the South Platte River in order to improve the quality of the water flowing into the river. Traffic in the area is estimated to go up 2% - 3% per year over the next 10 years. The plan will not address most of the environmental problems, including soil pollution, spillover impacts from new business uses to adjacent residential development (such noise-pollution), drainage issues, and any increased industrial uses.


The Brighton corridor’s location lies mostly within the RiNo district, so many of the environmental concerns regarding previous use history and the environmental consequences that resulted, as well as their correction, are included in the River North Plan. That said, the primarily infrastructure- and transportation-oriented improvements planned for the Brighton Corridor will carry their own environmental impacts, many of which are designed to improve existing conditions in the area. These include more shade trees, bushes, and other greenery, as well as lighter-colored paving materials, intended to reduce the urban heat island effect. Stakeholder feedback is clearly  in favor of including water quality treatment in the overall design. The details of how this will be done have yet to be made public, however. Increased bicycle and pedestrian access should reduce overall air pollution in the area, though accommodating heavy-vehicle and industrial traffic will continue to be a necessary concern, as this corridor is, and will continue to be, a critical industrial avenue into the downtown area. Eco-friendly materials and sustainable improvements such as LED lighting are also being implemented along Brighton Boulevard, while the planned RiNo Park, to be located nearby, will provide outdoor recreation opportunities in conjunction with a planned adjacent festival area for open-air activities and events. Although the Brighton redevelopment includes many planned measures intended to improve the visible environmental conditions in the immediate area, the history of mainly-industrial use in the area has already done considerable damage, and many of these existing problems are not directly addressed, at present. There is also the potential for the increased popularity of the Brighton corridor to bring environmental complications of its own.

The Brighton corridor’s location lies mostly within the RiNo district, so many of the environmental concerns regarding previous use history and the environmental consequences that resulted, as well as their correction, are included in the River North Plan. That said, the primarily infrastructure- and transportation-oriented improvements planned for the Brighton Corridor will carry their own environmental impacts, many of which are designed to improve existing conditions in the area. These include more shade trees, bushes, and other greenery, as well as lighter-colored paving materials, intended to reduce the urban heat island effect. Stakeholder feedback is clearly  in favor of including water quality treatment in the overall design. The details of how this will be done have yet to be made public, however. Increased bicycle and pedestrian access should reduce overall air pollution in the area, though accommodating heavy-vehicle and industrial traffic will continue to be a necessary concern, as this corridor is, and will continue to be, a critical industrial avenue into the downtown area. Eco-friendly materials and sustainable improvements such as LED lighting are also being implemented along Brighton Boulevard, while the planned RiNo Park, to be located nearby, will provide outdoor recreation opportunities in conjunction with a planned adjacent festival area for open-air activities and events. Although the Brighton redevelopment includes many planned measures intended to improve the visible environmental conditions in the immediate area, the history of mainly-industrial use in the area has already done considerable damage, and many of these existing problems are not directly addressed, at present. There is also the potential for the increased popularity of the Brighton corridor to bring environmental complications of its own.


In order for the South Platte redevelopment plans to be implemented successfully, environmental issues, including soil and water quality concerns, need to be addressed. For example, the 2013 Denver South Platte Corridor Study (DSPCS) recognizes how decades of soil contamination has left its mark. The plan area is encompassed by the ASARCO Superfund site.  Before the long term impacts of such practices were recognized, unrestricted dumping into and along the South Platte River was common. The blood levels of children living near or within the old ASARCO site have shown increased levels of “lead, arsenic, and cadmium contamination.” Although, the state has gone on record saying that, regarding the ASARCO site, “...all immediate threats at the site have been addressed and the remedy is expected to be protective of human health,” regular monitoring has also been mandated. Likewise, along this stretch of the South Platte, the river has been subjected to pollution from sewage facilities that are located in the surrounding area. The Denver Department of Environmental Quality has committed itself to consistent monitoring of the water’s suitability for recreational use. Any public statement of the results of such monitoring, however, have proven difficult to locate. The DSPCS acknowledges the need for more data and follow-up regarding the various past and present impacts on the environment.

In order for the South Platte redevelopment plans to be implemented successfully, environmental issues, including soil and water quality concerns, need to be addressed. For example, the 2013 Denver South Platte Corridor Study (DSPCS) recognizes how decades of soil contamination has left its mark. The plan area is encompassed by the ASARCO Superfund site.  Before the long term impacts of such practices were recognized, unrestricted dumping into and along the South Platte River was common. The blood levels of children living near or within the old ASARCO site have shown increased levels of “lead, arsenic, and cadmium contamination.” Although, the state has gone on record saying that, regarding the ASARCO site, “...all immediate threats at the site have been addressed and the remedy is expected to be protective of human health,” regular monitoring has also been mandated. Likewise, along this stretch of the South Platte, the river has been subjected to pollution from sewage facilities that are located in the surrounding area. The Denver Department of Environmental Quality has committed itself to consistent monitoring of the water’s suitability for recreational use. Any public statement of the results of such monitoring, however, have proven difficult to locate. The DSPCS acknowledges the need for more data and follow-up regarding the various past and present impacts on the environment.