Jefferson Parkway clears legal hurdle but still faces other obstacles
December 22, 2012 — Despite a federal judge’s ruling authorizing a land transfer for the proposed Jefferson Parkway, the planned toll road still faces significant obstacles, Golden noted today.
On Dec. 21, Federal District Judge Philip A. Brimmer issued an opinion upholding the federal government’s decision to transfer land on the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge for construction of the Jefferson Parkway. In December 2011 the Town of Superior filed suit challenging the decision to transfer the land. Shortly thereafter, the City of Golden and two environmental groups joined the lawsuit.
“While Golden and its co-plaintiffs did not win the lawsuit, we have made progress on the much bigger issue of awareness, which we are hopeful will put the protection of Golden in the forefront of any future transportation plans,” said Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan. “We are pleased that the region has begun to focus on identifying more comprehensive solutions to Colorado’s transportation challenges while recognizing the unique needs of our City. Out of the 150 miles of existing or proposed beltway segments circling Denver, only the five miles in Golden would go through an established community.”
Sloan added: “The judge’s decision by no means completes the Jefferson Parkway. Proponents still have substantial hurdles, not least of which is securing taxpayer dollars to make the project financially viable.”
Golden had joined the lawsuit in January to halt the transfer by the Fish and Wildlife Service of land on the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge for the construction of the proposed Jefferson Parkway, arguing that the Service decided to convey the land without adequate environmental reviews or mitigation.
The lawsuit alleged that the Fish and Wildlife Service (1) failed to conduct adequate environmental analysis of the effects of the property conveyance and the Jefferson Parkway, (2) unlawfully rejected Golden’s separate application for the strip of land, and (3) failed to ensure that environmental effects on the Refuge were minimized. Golden identified a number of serious harms to the City and its residents, including congestion, noise and air pollution from increased traffic on already-congested roads.
While pursuing its lawsuit challenging the land transfer, Golden has continued to work constructively with neighboring communities and the State to identify collaborative solutions to the region’s transportation challenges that satisfy all parties. Golden also engaged its citizens in a community conversation that evaluated possible road designs and established parameters for Golden’s discussions with these other entities.
“Communities across the region can address our common transportation needs in a responsible, cooperative manner,” said Golden Mayor Pro Tem Joe Behm. “In that spirit, the City of Golden this year has maintained a dialogue with neighboring communities and the Colorado Department of Transportation, looking for solutions that work for various parties. That remains our approach and our commitment today, just as it was before the judge’s ruling.”
“The lawsuit was one tool to promote appropriate regional transportation solutions,” Behm added. “Golden will maintain its commitment to these discussions, with the goal of identifying solutions that work for the entire region, even as it preserves its right to energetically defend its residents against efforts that would harm them.”