Ever since the 1950s there has been a dream in metropolitan Denver to have a “beltway system,” a super highway that would circumscribe Denver and bring together the Denver metro area and all of Colorado. The beltway made progress early on and was nearly complete, but when it was time for the beltway to go through Golden, the city refused, citing that it was unnecessary and a waste of the city’s efforts at that time. This has been the story for the last 60 years and now, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, and some state legislatures have felt that they have no further choice but to create an authority that would create the beltway – with or without the consent of the City of Golden.
The new proposed legislation, the “Beltway Economic Enhancement Program” (BEEP), would have “dominant eminent domain” which means it could take over not only private, but also public land possibly including the Colorado School of Mines. The authority would consist of 18 voting members, with Golden receiving one vote, and only a majority of quorum would be needed to take the land BEEP deemed necessary. And although not likely, some early plans indicate that BEEP could take land that includes a large portion of Greek row and the ball fields. A potential eight-lane highway also creates a safety concern for those who make the commute to school from Mines Park.
The Associated Students of the Colorado School of Mines (ASCSM) was first notified of this issue on Monday, April 15, and immediately began investigating. After having conversations with the Golden City Council, The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, the CSM Administration, and others closely tied to the matter, ASCSM has gotten a clearer picture about what is being proposed and the background surrounding the issue.
Both the City of Golden and the Jeffco Commissioners have separate opinions on how to handle the beltway issue. Mayor Sloan and the rest of the Golden City Council believe that the beltway has no business in the city despite safety, traffic congestion, and air pollution issues along the 93/6 corridor. Don Rossier, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for Jeffco, sees the beltway as an uncompleted project that threatens the commerce and of not only Denver and its metro area, but the entire state. Jeffco disregards that the potential eight-lane highway could threaten commerce within golden and decrease Golden’s aesthetic appeal.
Both sides have different ideas and perspectives on the issue, but ASCSM has determined that there is no immediate threat on the issue because it will most likely not pass or even be introduced in state legislature due to the session ending on May 9. Furthermore, it is likely that Governor John Hickenlooper, who preaches regional compromise, would veto the bill if it even got that far. However, this is clearly an issue that will come up again and again and therefore, it is the ASCSM’s position that such a law is undesirable because of its potential threat to the welfare of the school. Moreover, it is imperative that Golden and Jeffco come to an agreement on the issue. ASCSM will do its best to help facilitate the issue so that Greek row, CSM sports facilities, and student safety are top priorities, and that these changes would only enhance the City of Golden and Mines. As more information comes in, ASCSM and the CSM Administration will dissect the issue with scrutiny and will notify students.