EDITORíS DESK: CDOT and the shortcut sham

       A sham.
       There's no better word for what the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and its consulting engineers have pulled on the Westside for the past several months.
       Give us input, they told the public, as part of its $8.5 million planning process. So we gave them input - an actual plan that had at its heart the goal of preserving as much of the old Westside as possible. A key part of the plan - perhaps the key part - was the proposed "shortcut" through Gold Hill Mesa to alleviate the traffic crunch on the highway at 21st Street. We knew this could be tough on Gold Hill, whose developers have spent a small fortune making the property safe and quite naturally are trying to maximize their future earnings from it. But it was all out front - the idea that it was only fair to build such a road on land that does not already have established neighborhoods and and that will in fact be the cause of much of the expansion need.
       The CDOT engineers seemed enthused. They drew up a nearly straight four-lane road from 14th to Broadway, just like the Pioneer's Do No Harm Plan had proposed it, and showed it in dark blue (the same color as their new construction) on all their 21st Street design options. But as time passed, things didn't seem quite right. The state kept saying the traffic relief wouldn't be enough to eliminate even one of the triple-left turns for an at-grade intersection at 21st and 24 that would be ineffective, anyway.
       Now we know why. It all came out at the Working Group meeting Dec. 13. CDOT never did study the shortcut as proposed. It never did try to negotiate with Gold Hill Mesa. Instead, the engineers - whose intentions I've defended in the past but I won't anymore - drew up a sham. And only when hard questions were asked at the meeting did the truth come out.
       No doubt, some of you may shrug at all this and say, oh well, the highway still needs expanding. To which I'd respond: Maybe so, but which part of the proposal can you believe? See what I mean?

- K.J.