Denver International Airport at sunrise, Denver Colorado, USA,

(Photo by YayaErnst, istockphoto) Denver International Airport at sunrise.

Denver • The $93.4 million widening of Peña Boulevard to Denver International Airport won Denver City Council approval Monday.

One council member voted against it, and another abstained. But 11 voted for it.

The upgrades are to improve traffic flow on a 3.5-mile stretch of Peña, between Jackson Gap and the airport terminal, by increasing inbound lanes from three to five and outbound lanes from three to four.

The city will award a contract to Interstate Highway Construction of Centennial to design and build the project, the first of four phases of work on the 17.2-mile Peña Boulevard over the next decade.

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As climate change threatens and 200,000 more people are expected to live in Denver by 2040, the city should work to get more Denverites out of their cars and into public transit, said new Councilman Chris Hinds, who abstained.

But Councilman Kevin Flynn said, “We have to keep up maintenance and expansion of the roadway. … The roadway also carries buses, shuttles, hotel shuttles and mountain shuttles, so there is a lot of multi-modal travel that has to use Peña Boulevard.”

If Denver’s light rail isn’t enough to transport daily airport traffic, then the light rail to DIA should be expanded, not the boulevard, said Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, who voted against the project.

Councilman Paul Kashmann said Peña Boulevard was built to handle less traffic than DIA now gets and is expected to get.

The road was created for 50 million vehicles a year but already is handling 64.5 million, said Michelle Martin, the DIA infrastructure director.

The construction is expected to start early next year and be completed by spring 2022.

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