Faster (i.e. f/2.8) zooms are important for some folks, because they might need to shoot at maximum aperture at least some of the time. The older AF 20-35mm f/2.8D or AF-S 17-35mm f/2.8D Nikkors would be an alternatiove to the 16-35mm if that matters to you. I'd expect image quality to be pretty similar between the three in general terms.
There isn't an f/2.8 zoom that covers the 16-70mm focal length range, so that wouldn't be an option if you needed f/2.8.
One last thing - when you bought your 35-70mm, there was probably a large gap in performance between it and the cheaper "consumer" zooms - that gap has narrowed considerably in the last 20 years.