Payoff for growth ‘rarely worth the price’

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 6/18/19

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. — Italian proverb, attributed to Montgomery Scott Raise your hand if you’ve been inconvenienced—either in minor ways or in major …

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Payoff for growth ‘rarely worth the price’


Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

— Italian proverb, attributed to Montgomery Scott

Raise your hand if you’ve been inconvenienced—either in minor ways or in major ways—by the construction project at the intersection of 72nd and Indiana. I am raising my hand for the latter.

Not only do I live close to there, but that intersection represents the shortest route to one of my schools and another of my favorite destinations. And it doesn’t help that, in the infinite wisdom of CDOT, the only other major intersection to the west side of Indiana has also been subjected to significant construction work this winter. And some of that has been cosmetic.

Being close to that intersection, I’ve had the privilege to watch its progress.

It was originally slated to open in February. That deadline missed. It was, then, scheduled to be opened in April. That deadline also missed. It opened in May but, if you’ve been anywhere near it, you know that “open” is a relative term. It is basically still just one lane each direction, and those lanes are subject to enormous disruptions from the ongoing construction work at the new development on the southeast corner. 

I am not unaware of, or unsympathetic to, the difficulties from a construction standpoint that this winter posed. But if you’re imagining the problem is going to magically fix itself as soon as the weather improves, then you’ve got a better imagination than J.J.Abrams. The new housing development is going to keep traffic through the area bottled up for some time to come.

I don’t write all of this for the purpose of simply grousing about traffic. I mean, c’mon, I was born and raised in Denver, spent most of my life within a couple miles of the Wadsworth corridor. I have very little illusion of ever getting anywhere in a timely fashion.  

No, I write this now because a friend of mine has told me that there are now plans to put in a new high-density housing project just a mile up the road from there, at the corner of 80th and Indiana. Ever go through that particular intersection within 10 minutes of the start or end of the school day at nearby Ralston Valley High School? That intersection is already massively overtaxed, and a railway bridge makes it all but impossible to widen Indiana enough to accommodate all the new traffic from Candelas. And, as of March 2018, the city had been denied federal funding to widen the road and replace the bridge.

I’ve written before that major projects require major consideration—that infrastructure must be put in place before huge changes can be properly enacted. When I wrote that, it was in the context of a middle school, re-engineered to accommodate 1,000 students, in front of a road built to accommodate about 40 cars per hour. This proposed project would be a nightmare. When Candelas, Five Parks and Whisper Creek went up, there was room along Indiana to widen the street to handle the traffic and, still, it takes forever to get through that area. Indiana between the railroad bridge and the current project at 72nd is restricted on the sides by water and by drop-offs—the ability to widen the road is limited.

And my faith in CDOT’s ability to get the necessary construction done in a timely fashion is … also limited.

I’m a fan of progress; I’m a fan of growth. I’m not one of those people who want Arvada to forever look like it did in 1984. But recent experiences have taught me that the price of growth is frequently much greater than they tell you it will be, and the payoff is rarely worth the price.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at, on Kindle, or through His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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