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Golden accuses beltway proponents of sneak attack

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For months the City of Golden met with Jefferson County and state authorities, trying to come up with a plan that would could increase and ease the flow of traffic in the metro area as it also protected the town. But those negotiations came to a halt at the very end of December, and Golden soon joined a lawsuit that would put a roadblock in the path of the Jefferson Parkway.

Superior was the first to sue to stop the transfer of a right-of-way along the eastern edge of Rocky Flats to the Jefferson Public Parkway Highway Authority, which wants to build a toll road highway along the land. The suit was filed the day after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it was signing off on a deal to swap that land for open space on the southwestern edge, which Boulder, Boulder County and Jefferson County would buy and add to the wildlife refuge that is being built at the former nuclear weapons plant.

Golden promised residents that "The Jefferson Parkway will be permitted to 'move dirt' only after the $57 million has been committed for the mitigation projects in Golden. The mitigation projects are: construction of a grade-separated interchange at U.S. Highway 6 and 19th Street, estimated at $25 million; relocation and upgrading State Highway 93 to four lanes for the section from SH 58 to north of the Golden city limits, estimated at $25 million; implementation of noise limitation along parts of SH93, estimated at $7 million."

But when the negotiations fell through, Golden joined the suit the next month. The land swap is currently on hold while the feds respond to legal motions, including charges that the government did not do an in-depth environmental study to test contamination on the Rocky Flats land.

Then, last week, Golden got word that the highway proponents were not waiting around. A bill has been proposed to create a Beltway Completion Authority that could clear the way for future construction of Denver-area beltway-related projects by paving over Colorado's tradition of local control, established almost four decades ago by House Bill 74-104.

The proposed legislation "promotes the prosperity, culture and well-being of Colorado's citizens and businesses, which, in turn, promote the attractiveness of the state to economic development and the creation of jobs," according to the draft language. (Read a draft of the proposal, dated April 5, here.) According to Golden officials, the bill would also add a "whole new layer of government with unprecedented powers to override local control of municipalities and counties throughout the Denver metro area."

That tradition could reach the end of the line in Golden, the one-time Colorado capitol that bills itself as "Where the West Lives." But it's not going down without a fight; read more about the sneak attack on the city's website.

Read more about Golden's parkway issues in "Plans for the Jefferson County Parkway are kicking up lots of dust."


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