Aerotropolis Regional Transportation Authority
On Feb. 27, 2018, the Aurora City Council, the Adams County Board of County Commissioners, and the Aerotropolis Area Coordinating Metropolitan District (AACMD) executed an intergovernmental agreement establishing the Aerotropolis Regional Transportation Authority (ARTA). The ARTA Board of Directors consists of representatives from all three of these agencies. They will manage and oversee the budgeting, phasing, and financing of critical regional transportation infrastructure projects needed to improve access across Aurora and Adams County. These improvements will provide much-needed additional connectivity to Denver International Airport with new interchanges on Interstate 70 (I-70) and E-470. For more information about ARTA, its vision, and recent achievements, please visit the ARTA website.
I-70/Harvest Road Interchange
A key element of the transportation network is a new interchange on I-70 along the proposed Harvest Road alignment. This project will be a critical piece of the roadway network which will convey people and commerce to Denver International Airport and to the adjacent Colorado Aerotropolis; a developing world-class residential, commercial, and industrial community expected to create 170,000 new jobs.
Harvest Road has long been identified in numerous transportation and land-use plans as a key north-south transportation corridor, and has more recently been included in the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) 2040 Metro Vision Regional Transportation Plan as well as the update of the Northeast Area Transportation Study.
In 2006, the I-70/Harvest Road Interchange was included as part of the “Preferred Alternative” identified in the Environmental Assessment (EA), the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), and the Interstate Access Request (IAR) documentation prepared for the I-70/E-470 Interchange Complex. The environmental studies and the subsequent summary documents (EA and FONSI), along with the IAR, were conducted and prepared in accordance with requirements set forth from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
The original approvals of these documents were granted on the following dates:
- Interstate Access Request – February 9, 2006
- Environmental Assessment – November 7, 2006
- Finding of No Significant Impact – July 10, 2007
The design and construction of the interchange was not completed at the time due to a lack of funding.
With the formation of ARTA and its mission providing a funding mechanism for the interchange, preliminary meetings with CDOT and FHWA were held in 2018 with regard to advancing the design and construction of this interchange. Through these discussions it was determined, due to the length of time elapsed since the initial approvals, that a “Reevaluation” of the original EA, as well as an update of the traffic forecasts, travel demands, and the impacts to the regional transportation network, would be required.
The purpose for the interchange remains the same today as what is documented in the original EA and FONSI—to link the freeway and tollway systems in an efficient and safe manner while maintaining and enhancing local access for the existing and planned roadway system along with future travel demand.
Current Project Status
The Reevaluation process began in early 2019, as a project team consisting of transportation engineers and environmental specialists began collecting traffic and environmental-related data, along with coordinating with personnel from FHWA and CDOT. The Reevaluation, including the updated traffic and environmental documents and development of conceptual and preliminary layouts for the interchange, is scheduled to be completed by December 2019. The Reevaluation of the previously approved EA is following FWHA and CDOT policies and procedures, which outline the requirements for the justification and documentation necessary to substantiate any proposed changes in access to the interstate system.
Upon approval of the Reevaluation and the updated IAR, preliminary and final design of the I-70/Harvest Road Interchange will proceed along with portions of Harvest Road north from I-70 to DIA. Harvest Road will eventually extend to the south of I-70, providing additional connectivity to future growth areas within the City of Aurora and Arapahoe County.