Pipelines, I-70 Widening Planned

Sat January 22, 2005 - West Edition
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DENVER (AP) El Paso Corp. plans two pipeline expansion projects to deliver natural gas from the Rocky Mountains to other states.

The Houston-based company plans to spend about $180 million on projects, with construction scheduled to begin this summer pending approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, company spokeswoman Kim Wallace said.

One project is a $120 million, 143-mi.-long pipeline to carry gas from the Piceance Basin in northwest Colorado to Wamsutter, WY, Wallace said. A $60 million, 102-mi. pipeline will ship gas from the Raton Basin near Trinidad in southern Colorado to the Oklahoma panhandle.

Residents Oppose I-70 Widening

Widening Interstate 70 through the mountains to ease congestion would destroy historic areas, hurt the environment and fail to solve the traffic problem, Clear Creek County residents and government officials said at a hearing.

“Nobody in the I-70 corridor wants to see T-Rex moved up here,” said Sandra Sajbel of Floyd Hill, referring to the multiyear, multibillion dollar project to widen Interstate 25 through the Denver metro area. “Are we willing to destroy the Colorado that everyone comes here to enjoy and admire?”

More than 30 people spoke at the first of 10 hearings on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s plans to relieve congestion on the main route to the state’s mountain resorts. Only one spoke in favor of widening the highway.

Most favored a monorail, an option transportation planners say is too expensive. Ed Rapp of Idaho Springs said cost cannot be the only issue. “We have to nurture these mountains for future generations,” he said.

Several speakers said the disruption from construction would drive tourists away. “Our county cannot survive this kind of economic downturn,” said Clear Creek County Commissioner Joan Drury. She said businesses in the county are already struggling.

“The Western Slope tourism economy will be put in jeopardy,” said Kevin O’Malley, also a Clear Creek commissioner.

Project manager Cecilia Joy said planners realize business would decline during the 15 years of construction, but would recover.

Officials of several local governments said they hadn’t been given enough time to study the project and asked that the period of public comment be extended beyond the scheduled March 10.