The E-470 Highway Authority in Colorado voted unanimously last week to shift three miles of a stalled toll road project westward to take advantage of the Denver International Airport project.
Authority members said that moving the planned route about 1 1/2 miles farther west before it cuts north will create more demand for the toll road, which to date has been unsuccessful in attracting drivers to its completed section.
The vote was allowed by a state law passed last year that overrides the authority of Arapahoe County, where the toll road is situated. Two Arapahoe County commissioners, Jeannie Jolly and John Nicholl, have sued the E-470 authority. The suit contends that use of the proceeds from a 1986 bond issue designated for E-470 without approval from the voters violates Amendment 1, the state's tax spending and limitation act passed last fall.
Only five miles have been built so far of the planned 30-mile, $635 million toll road, which is intended to connect the area south of Denver with the new airport east of the city.
In other airport-related news, a major users group led by Continental Airlines urged Denver to delay the planned Dec. 19 opening of Denver International.
With the exception of United Airlines, the major airport user in Denver, other airlines and cargo haulers have said the planned December opening would create chaos at the busiest time of the year. The group, the Denver Airlines Airport Affairs Committee, said in a release that the opening should be in mid-January.
The group includes Mesa Airlines of Farmington, N.M., United's connecting airline at Denver, America West, USAir, Delta, American, Air Wisconsin, TWA, GP Express, Mexicana, Emery Worldwide, Midwest Express, U.S. Postal Service, Reliable Air Freight, Cargo Inc., Bellair Express, and the Denver Air Cargo Association.
The postal service said in a release, "To shut down and move our entire operation during this period not only would affect delivery of Christmas cards and packages to Denver-area residents, but would affect mail delivery for the entire nation."
Mayor Wellington Webb, however, wants to stick to the original date for the opening. City officials say they are even considering opening Dec. 12 to beat the Christmas rush.