We’re making progress on I-25 funding in Northern Colorado

We continue to make important progress in funding expansion of north Interstate 25.

Last week the Colorado Transportation Commission announced an additional $200 million for north I-25. The money is contingent upon the award of a $95 million federal freight corridor grant being applied for by the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization.

If it comes through, it would be applied to widen a segment of north I-25 to three lanes each way from Colorado Highway 402 in south Loveland to Colorado Highway 56 in Berthoud.

This is in addition to the $350.5 million already committed to the corridor for other improvements, including:

  • $303.5 million for the Phase One I-25 Express Lane Project interim solution. This is an additional express toll lane each way between Colorado Highway 14 in Fort Collins and Colorado 402 south. The Prospect interchange and the Colorado 402 interchange will also be rebuilt.
  • $32.5 million for the Crossroads Boulevard intersection. The bridges were widened to add an additional lane in each direction, and the grade separation between the northbound and southbound lanes was leveled out. This work should be done in the first quarter of next year.
  • $14.5 million for the southbound Berthoud hill climbing lane. This completed improvement addressed a major bottleneck.

Of note, the Phase One I-25 widening project is an “interim” solution. With congestion in that stretch very bad and state transportation dollars too few, CDOT wanted to get moving to address a dangerous, overcrowded road. The money was patched together from various sources including from CDOT, our local communities and a small federal grant.

However, it is being built to “interim standards” at about half the cost of building it to “full standard compliant.” We will have three lanes, but an interim standard means a shorter life for the road before maintenance issues surface. We are grateful to CDOT for providing congestion relief on I-25 sooner rather than later, but they can’t check it off the list as “done” until it is built to the full construction standard.

Meanwhile, to get the rest of the funding that I-25 needs, conversations continue among business groups in Colorado about how to fix the state’s transportation funding problem. Most agree that transportation funding needs to be restored in the state’s budget. That money will be used to service transportation bonds, the proceeds of which will accelerate projects across the state.

New sources of funding are also being debated. Some are advocating for a half-cent to 1-cent increase in the state sales tax. It’s doubtful voters will support such a tax, however. Other ideas include a modest gas tax increase indexed to inflation and a new resident car registration fee.

Important progress is being made to fund the widening of north I-25.  A lot of people deserve credit, but a few are worth noting, including CDOT Director Shailen Bhatt and the city, town and county governments in Northern Colorado. The partnership between our business community and government leaders has been integral to our progress.

Originally published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan on October 29, 2017.