Judge denies emergency motion to stop Boulder from funding Rocky Mountain Greenway

·2 min read

Jul. 7—A judge on Tuesday denied an emergency motion meant to stop Boulder from spending money to build an underpass connecting trails in Boulder and Boulder County with trails in Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, the site of a former production facility for nuclear weapons parts.

The motion, which sought injunctive relief or a temporary restraining order, was filed by attorney Randall Weiner on behalf of the Colorado chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Environmental Information Network and biologist Harvey Nichols.

"We weren't able to convince (the judge) that the writing of a check was irreparable harm at this stage," Weiner said.

The judge dismissed the case without prejudice, however, which allows the motion to be refiled.

The same group sued the city in May, arguing that Boulder City Council should have considered other alternatives and held a public hearing when it agreed to move forward with plans to fund trail connections at Rocky Flats. The case has not yet been heard.

Rocky Flats, 10 miles south of Boulder in unincorporated Jefferson County, opened for public recreation in 2018, 13 years after a decade-long $7 billion cleanup removed 21 tons of nuclear material from the former nuclear trigger plant. Rocky Flats produced plutonium triggers from 1952 to 1989, and 1,300 acres of the 6,200-acre site remain off-limits as a Superfund site.

Boulder is participating in a Federal Land Access Program grant that will fund the underpass at Colo. 128. Ultimately, the Rocky Mountain Greenway will connect the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, the Two Ponds, and the Rocky Flats national wildlife refuges with Rocky Mountain National Park through an interconnected trail system.

When discussing the trail connectors in April, the City Council said that it wanted to move forward to maintain the commitment made by the earlier council. Several council members said they had to weigh the risks and that getting hit by a car crossing the road felt more likely than dying of cancer because of an exposure that happened at Rocky Flats.

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