Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jeffco Commissioners Ask Legislators to Create a Beltway Completion Authority With Unprecedents Powers

[Published April 19, 2012, in the Denver Post]

Democracy and due process are all good and fine, but they do have their limits, don’t they?  The three Jeffco Commissioners, fed up with Golden’s refusal to back down on its opposition to the toll road boondoggle north of town, have decided to ask the state legislature to do away with “home rule” cities’ ability to block projects within their city limits.

This is ironic, since the commissioners gave up years ago on pushing a beltway through Golden itself and merely tried to build a toll road connecting State Highway 93 with Highway 120 south of Flatirons Mall.  Having failed to bribe Golden to drop its opposition to that toll road, they have decided to get the legislature to pass a “beltway completion bill” that would not only order construction of the toll road but extend it through Golden itself.

Sen. Betty Boyd, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee, has been identified as the “sponsor” of the bill, but the Senator’s secretary told me on Monday that she has not received a draft of the bill and “there is no such bill.”

Nevertheless, the full text of the non-existent bill, drafted by the Jeffco commissioners, has been released, and is even promoted in the county’s own employee newsletter, Frontline. You can find links to the bill and an interpretation of its impact on Colorado cities at www.JimSmithColumns.com.

This brash attempt to short circuit the democratic process is reminiscent of when Colorado’s two U.S. Senators passed a midnight bill without hearings which mandated construction of the “super-tower” on Lookout Mountain. Regardless of how you felt about the tower, it was shocking that two politicians could, in effect, say, “enough of this democratic crap, build the damn tower!” Our county commissioners are now trying to accomplish the same feat on the state level regarding their pet development scheme/beltway.

It couldn’t be clearer by now that completing the beltway has nothing to do with meeting transportation needs in the northwest quadrant.  CDOT’s own multi-million-dollar studies proved that.  Rather, the beltway effort has everything to do with lining the pockets of developers and those real estate professionals who will profit from their development.  If they succeed, we can look forward to the kind of sprawl that has overrun the other three quadrants of the metro area after their sections of the beltway were completed.

I emailed and called Sen. Boyd’s office asking the Senator for comment on the bill prior to deadline, but she never called me -- and still hasn't two days later.

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