ARCHIVED  August 1, 1998

Northern segment of E-470 still waits, but progress made

BRIGHTON — With the July 1 opening of two new sections of the E-470 Highway, the Denver beltway project brought Brighton another slow step closer to the metropolis to its south.
Of the newly opened segments, the one that will have the greater impact on Brighton is the 10-mile section of road stretching between 120th Avenue at the northern extreme of Denver International Airport and 56th Avenue at its southern end. The highway crosses Pea Boulevard, DIA˜s main entrance.
The final section of E-470 is planned to run northwest from 120th Street to Interstate 25. Money for its construction is yet to be raised. And so, the long-sought northern express passage to DIA is still a dream, but the current route passes through Brighton.
"People will have the option of coming up Sable Boulevard (in Brighton) to get to and from the airport," explained Donna Spradling, executive director of the Greater Brighton Economic Development Corp. "The police and fire departments are preparing for increased traffic along there." Sable Boulevard connects Colorado Highway 7 in Brighton and Interstate 76, which in turn connects to E-470 at 120th St. Highway 7 connects to I-25 west of Brighton.
The impact of the new highway on Brighton˜s economy is still a question mark. For one thing, Spradling pointed out, it˜s still a good 10 miles from Brighton. For another, the E-470 Public Highway Authority estimates that only 5,000 or 6,000 vehicles a day will travel the new section of highway in the next year.
Planning for an eventual fast, direct route from Northern Colorado and Wyoming to DIA through Brighton has meant getting as many viewpoints as possible as to what changes would be desirable and what would not from residents, businesses, the E-470 authority and consultants who have studied similar projects in other parts of the country, Spradling said.
E-470 is Colorado˜s only toll highway. With Colorado Highway C-470, it forms a partial beltway around greater Denver, giving drivers an alternative to the overburdened I-25 and offering quick access to outlying suburbs and, eventually, to DIA. Residents of the Denver area more or less voted E-470 into existence, beginning in 1981 with a transportation study of the impact of the proposed new airport. Because there was no state or federal money available to plan or build such a road, Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties (and later Thornton, Brighton, Greeley and Weld County) raised the money through bond issues.
That money must be repaid to investors. Hence the toll booths, which in 1997 collected $1.9 million from one popular 51/2-mile section in Douglas County. Tolls at the mainline toll plazas were originally set at 50 cents, but now vary from 75 cents to a dollar. Entrance-ramp tolls are lower.
Drivers who haven˜t been on a toll road lately will be glad to know that E-470 features 70 mile-per-hour express lanes right through its toll plazas. Cars equipped with a special transponder that signals an account number to the toll computer need not stop to pay.
"When you go through, it automatically debits your prepaid account that˜s tied to your credit card," said Steve Hogan, director of the E-470 Public Highway Authority. "There are some hiccups in any software, but for the most part it works very, very well." Hogan emphasizes that it is the time savings that keeps people driving E-470.
The area between Brighton and DIA is mostly agricultural land. The town of Brighton is planning for possible changes, but not counting on any windfall from rapid development, Spradling said.
"We do have developers looking at where the highway will go and especially at future interchanges," she said. But, she said, there are no estimates on changes in the tax base. "If we did that and the market takes a dive, we˜d be way off. We don˜t anticipate (growth in the tax base)."
There has been some new residential development in the area around 112th and Buckley just south of Brighton in Commerce City, and a new golf course has gone in nearby, Hogan said. n Brighton, many land owners eager to profit from the coming highway have put land up for sale.
"I don˜t think there˜s been a ton sold," she said. "It˜s kind of just a little ahead of that curve," she added.
If she were buying land in Brighton, where would she be looking?
"That would depend on what I wanted it for," she said. "If I owned a large business and I wanted easy commuting for my employees, I probably would want to be near an E-470 interchange. If I were a manufacturer and I wanted great highway access for trucks, I˜d probably want to be near I-76. If I were looking for residential land, I˜d probably want to be near the Platte (River), because there are more amenities there."
But Spradling insisted that changes in Brighton resulting from the advent of E-470 will be slow in coming, probably over the next 10 years or more.
"(The highway has) really not been the driving force in any one thing that˜s happened here yet," she said.

BRIGHTON — With the July 1 opening of two new sections of the E-470 Highway, the Denver beltway project brought Brighton another slow step closer to the metropolis to its south.
Of the newly opened segments, the one that will have the greater impact on Brighton is the 10-mile section of road stretching between 120th Avenue at the northern extreme of Denver International Airport and 56th Avenue at its southern end. The highway crosses Pea Boulevard, DIA˜s main entrance.
The final section of E-470 is planned to run northwest from 120th Street to Interstate 25. Money for its construction…

Related Content