CDOT Pledges To Track Air Quality As Part Of I-270 Rebuild, But Pollution-Choked Commerce City Residents Are Skeptical

The haze hung thick in the late June air as Joe Griffin, a Colorado Department of Transportation electrical tradesman, strapped a bread loaf-sized box to a signpost about 8 feet above Interstate 270 in Commerce City.

Standing below, Gordon Pierce opened an app on his phone. A blue signal indicated the solar-powered air monitoring sensor was already connected.

“It doesn’t take long,” said Pierce, a technical services program manager for the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The two agencies have installed a series of sensors along the often-congested interstate in anticipation of its planned reconstruction and expansion. CDOT wants to expand the highway’s capacity and upgrade aging structures that weren’t designed to carry modern-sized trucks. The project could get underway in 2023 and last until 2026.

The sensors will provide the state with enough detailed data to answer a “big burning question” for Pierce.

“What’s the air quality like before versus after construction?”