Skip to comments.CDOT's "Push Poll" On I-70 Expansion Draws Pushback
Posted on 05/21/2017 7:13:28 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
A telephone survey seeking opinions about the expansion of I-70 through east Denver is generating irate protests from some respondents, who say the survey seems designed to elicit positive responses about the purported benefits of the $1.8 billion project.
"It was one of the most one-sided push polls I ever listened to," Larry Patchett, a production technician for public television, wrote in a complaint to CDOT. "The entire thing was just a series of opportunities to validate your suppositions and PR spin on the I-70 Ditch project."
The project, which would replace a crumbling six-lane viaduct with a below-grade, partially covered superhighway expanded to ten lanes, has been a source of controversy and anger in neighborhoods flanking I-70 for years. (The dispute has triggered a lawsuit by the Sierra Club, claiming the EPA lowered its emission standards to allow the expansion, as well as legal attacks on a massive stormwater project by the City of Denver that will help keep the below-grade design from flooding.) But you'd never know it from the questions asked of 400 or so local residents in the recent survey, designed and conducted for CDOT by a private firm.
The stated goals of the survey included gauging public perceptions about the I-70 expansion, what sort of impact motorists expect the project to have on their current and future driving patterns, and figuring out the best way to communicate about the project to residents and commuters. Several of the questions seek demographic information about highway users and ask about how the construction would affect their personal travel plans; others ask about whether respondents had positive or negative reactions to the below-grade design and the construction of a "four-acre park-like cover" that's supposed to help reconnect the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods split by the interstate half a century ago.
But the section that seems to have left some respondents seething stresses the "possible long-term benefits that this project might have" after construction is completed. It asks how important reduced travel time, "increased jobs in surrounding neighborhoods," "increased local neighborhood connectivity" and other assorted benefits will be to Denver residents.
That struck some participants as highly loaded language. Opponents of the expansion have claimed the construction will mean more disruption, pollution and demolition of precious housing stock in some of Denver's most affordable communities — and, in the long run, redevelopment schemes that will drive longtime residents out of the area.
"The call took 34 minutes, and at the end of it, I was livid with fury, my cheeks red and my blood pressure undoubtedly high," one surveyee told Westword. "The real problem with administering a survey like that one is the manipulation that comes from how questions are worded. Two examples that infuriated me: referring to the planned changes as 'improvements' and the end results of the project as 'benefits.'"
A poster on the Ditch the Ditch Facebook page had a similar reaction: “Hello, last night I got a call from Alternative Data doing a survey for CDOT about I-70. Each question they asked was full of bias, and I very firmly indicated my objection. Sadly, the questioner would respond that he only had particular options for responses and didn't have the ability to preserve comments. The questions all focused around 'the I-70 improvements.'"
Patchett says the questions he was asked seemed to focus on the benefits to motorists, not concerns about the impact the expansion will have on local neighborhoods. When he brought up the feared effects on Globeville, Elyria and Swansea, the caller didn't seem to know what he was talking about. "To give the answers I want to give sounds like I'm against children and safety," he says.
CDOT spokeswoman Rebecca White says she's received no formal complaints about the survey, other than from Patchett. The survey is the second in a series the agency plans to conduct annually "to get a sense of what the average driver of I-70 knows about the project." White doesn't regard the survey as biased, but she adds that she's taking Patchett's comments seriously in designing future surveys.
"We do see this as a benefit, or we wouldn't be investing more than a billion dollars in this corridor," she notes. "Still, perhaps there is a more neutral word we can use going forward."
Ironically, CDOT recently issued a statewide alert warning of a phone scam, in which callers claim to be conducting a survey for the agency as a pretext for eliciting personal information. Patchett thinks the I-70 survey should come with some warnings of its own. As he noted in his complaint to the agency, "I'm not sure what was most offensive, the section of the poll offering my choice of ways to be given your spin on a regular basis or the part where I was given the chance to praise your expectations as to what the project might accomplish."
Links are broken. They’re supposed to be for Westword magazine. Please see original article for good links.
Remember, you folks in the news business, COMPLETE YOUR LINKS — DON’T MAKE THEM LOCAL (without the domain name)!
Tunnels and ditches are dangerous, especially for flammable gases denser than air.
let the private sector own this project and charge tolls for it
it will be cheaper than the government botching the job
The problem is not highway lanes.
The problem is high rise, high density, coffin apartments that clog roads with over population.
I-70 through Denver during rush hours is an F-ing parking lot. CDOT doesn’t NEED to rig their polls: everyone who has to drive that hellious stretch would be getting down on their knees and begging for more lanes.
And any Prog “environmentalist” groups fighting this expansion are simply promoting massive amounts of wasted fuel as tens of thousands of cars park on this highway for hour trying to get to or from work.
Sounds like Boston’s Big Dig hacks moved to Denver.
It is not just evening traffic. It is also early morning traffic. 10 lanes. I want 16 lanes. And I want them now. Build the new lanes.
Sounds like they’re using the Delphi technique by phone.
Denver has only two highways of any consequence: I-25 and I-70. The city ranks in the top ten worst highway systems in the U.S. Roads have been squeezed in between structures so it's totally socked in for any expansion considerations. Morning evening rush hours are essentially shelter in place periods. Denver drivers tailgate at freeway speeds and have tunnel vision so signaling to merge does not open a hole. You have to shoulder your way in and that triggers these anxious, agitated people. Any lane expansion has to be accompanied by on and off ramp expansions. As far fetched and extreme it may sound, the best solution is a two level system for at least the two highways. Trust me, I live and drive an 18 wheeler here.
"We gotta get out of this town!"
This last season I counted as many as eight large cranes in the downtown area which means eight new apartment projects. Is Denver an Agenda 21 smart city?
It's Agenda 21, but there's nothing smart about it.
You may have seen that I-25 burned today at the Tech Center. Chaos.
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