Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Democratic Deviousness In Action

When is a bad idea even worse? When it gets dismissed as predictable silliness, but has the long-term effect of eliminating possibilities for good governance.

Stay with me on this one--it's gonna take some work.

State Rep. Mike May (R) hands out the "Golden Anvil" Award every so often to Bad Business Bills which Weigh Down Colorado Commerce. I am on this mailing list, so I keep pretty well informed of what the Democrats are trying to do to ruin the Colorado economy. Tonight, though, something new piqued my interest.

The "Golden Anvil" citation included the following lines:

That is why House Republican Leader Mike May, R-Parker, awarded this week’s Golden Anvil to House Bill 1293, which was promoted this weekend by sponsor Rep. Gwyn Green (D-Golden) and anti-highway-expansion activists. . . .

As amended, HB 1293 would create a 500-yard bubble, the length of five football fields in each direction, around all public and private schools, making it more difficult for any highways to be built or expanded within that area.

This set off my radar, so I did a little reviewing of some stuff I took an interest in not too long ago.

The Colorado Deparment of Transportation, along with several other agencies, have been studying for several years now the feasibility of completing the Denver Highway Loop, which begins in the West at the intersection of C-470 and I-70, and circles south and east around the city to connect with E-470, which goes all around the east part of Denver and, with the recently completed connection, goes all the way around to reach Flatirons' Crossing Mall in the far northwest corner of the city. This leaves just the furthest West/Northwest corner of the Denver Metro Area without a leg on the Loop. And, as anybody who has tried to get anywhere in the northwest corner of the metro area can tell you, completing that loop would make a huge difference in travel around the city. CDOT has dubbed this project "The Northwest Corridor."

Two years ago, when this was first being looked at, I went to a couple of the public meetings held by CDOT to try to start a working plan. There was, as I recall, about 80 possibilities for this highway, though some were obviously better suited than others. But most of the most sensible alternatives involved the use and expansion of an already-existing four-lane highway, Colorado Hwy. 93, to complete the Loop into and through Golden, where it would hook up to C-470/I-70 and finish the Loop. If you look through the heading "Alternatives" at the above link, it will show you all the possible routes the NW Corridor could take.

The problem with that is that the residents of Golden--which, by the way, is about three times the size it was 20 years ago and sprawls up onto the sides of the foothills in every direction around the city--do not want a highway coming through their city. And, I suppose, I can't blame them: I don't want one coming through my part of town, either. But, given that there's already Hwy 93, CO Hwy 58, and CO Hwy 6 all passing through or around Golden, carrying traffic to Boulder and the gambling cities in the mountains, this is a smaller adjustment for that community than it would be for many others.

So how does Gwyn Green's HB 1293 come into play? Well, first, notice that Gwyn Green represents Golden. Second, check out this map on Mapquest, which shows the location of Mitchell Elementary School. Now, I'm no cartographer, but it looks to me like Mitchell Elementary School is within about 50 feet of Highway 93.

In other words, were HB1293 to pass and become law, the Northwest Corridor IS DEAD as a highway project. Hwy 93 could never be expanded as long as Mitchell Elem. still stands, and the residents of Golden, thanks to the cleverness of their representative, would never have to deal with being a part of the Denver Highway Loop.

Keep in mind, folks, that with the opening of Flatirons' Crossings Shopping Center, the redevelopment of the Rocky Flats region, and the otherwise normal expansion of housing in the northwest part of the metro area, NOT having an easy means of highway travel in this area will mean significant losses in terms of commerce, traffic congestion, lost time, and the massive environmental impact of cars idling in traffic jams. NOT completing the Highway Loop would be--twenty years out--a disaster for this area.

This disaster brought to you by the Democrats in your Legislature.

Addendum: Note that this bill passed out of the Education Committee, where it is more easily disguised. Had it gone through the Transportation Committee, somebody might have noticed the scheme.

Addendum 2: In case you were wondering, Mitchell Elem School (new facility) opened in about 1995--WAY after Hwy 93 existed in its current corridor.

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