Workers remove the last of the debris from a lot that was home to an auto parts store at the corner of Josephine and Steavenson as part of the Central 70 project proposes to reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70 East, add one new Express Lane in each direction, remove the aging 50-year old viaduct, lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado boulevards, and place a four-acre cover over a portion of the lowered interstate. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

Workers remove the last of the debris from a lot that was home to an auto parts store at the corner of Josephine and Steavenson as part of the Central 70 project proposes to reconstruct a 10-mile stretch of I-70 East, add one new Express Lane in each direction, remove the aging 50-year old viaduct, lower the interstate between Brighton and Colorado boulevards, and place a four-acre cover over a portion of the lowered interstate. (Photo by Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

The congregation of Denver’s oldest African-American church on Sunday showed its support for Ditch the Ditch, a group that has sued Denver to prevent the proposed expansion of Interstate 70 through the communities of Globeville and Elyria-Swansea.

Addressing the congregation and residents of the communities hosted by the Shorter Community African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Rev. Timothy E. Tyler, Shorter’s senior pastor, called for mindful development — and for Mayor Michael Hancock and the City Council “to consider an alternative route.”

The low-income neighborhoods surrounded by heavy industry in northeast Denver face demolition of homes for a major construction project at a time when housing costs are skyrocketing and gentrification is forcing low-income residents out of some areas.

The project requires the demolition of 56 homes and 17 businesses in Elyria-Swansea and surrounding areas.

“The expansion of the 70 freeway will cause irreparable harm to a community that already has overwhelming ecological and cultural vulnerabilities.” Tyler said. “It is time for Mayor Hancock and the city of Denver to treat underserved residents of Denver as human beings and stake-holders and not as pawns and disposable objects.”

City leaders often fail to listen to the concerns of citizens, he added. “People over progress, people over business,” he said.

Tyler led the congregation in praying that city leaders “do the right thing.”

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SOURCE: TOM MCGHEE
The Denver Post