Fix North I-25 Business Alliance Update – Activity and Success!
I-25 has become a huge problem. Thanks to the efforts of the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance, this is the “Year of Transportation” at the state capitol and throughout government meetings across the state. Great progress has been made as the Business Alliance works to secure $1.2 billion to widen 26 miles of I-25 to three lanes each way between Highway 14 in Fort Collins and Highway 66 north of Longmont by 2025.
The activity of the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance has been wide-reaching and the highlights of the last several months are:
- North I-25 has become a top state priority. Two years ago it was all about I-70 through Denver and I-70 in the mountains. Our efforts have changed that with I-25 often getting first mention by state and CDOT officials as the top transportation priority.
- $99 million has been secured for North I-25 projects including:
- Money to fix the Berthoud Hill chokepoint this summer. A 3-mile stretch of south-bound I-25 will be widened this summer with the addition of a ‘climbing lane’ on the hill south of Berthoud. Local communities and counties in Northern Colorado diverted some of their federal transportation funding allocation for this project.
- Money to rebuild the Crossroads intersection over the next two construction seasons. The Business Alliance lobbied for state transportation reserve dollars (called ‘RAMP’) which will be used to rebuild the intersection primarily by widening the interstate bridges that pass over the interchange. This work needs to be done in preparation to accommodate two addition lanes of interstate.
- Congress passed a long-term highway bill. Fix North I-25 Business Alliance supported the work of our Congressional delegation to pass the first ‘long-term’ highway bill in many years. The bill was written in a way that qualifies North I-25 for federal freight corridor grants and for low-interest loans.
- The Business Alliance created a statewide transportation advocacy coalition of local business organizations called Fix Colorado Roads (FixColoradoRoads.com). I-25 is our priority, but we reached the conclusion that to get what we want (money to widen North I-25) we have to help other parts of the state with their transportation funding problems. By building a network of local business organizations, we have more clout on transportation related bills.
- Fix North I-25 Business Alliance has done statewide polling – twice! Last year the Business Alliance did statewide polling to gauge voter support for various transportation funding options. We repeated that polling this month to test public support for the bonding proposal and two tax increase options. Good news: both sets of polls support funding for transportation.
But the work doesn’t stop there. In addition to the above, the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance has built a strategy for the 2016 legislative session of the Colorado General Assembly that focuses on identifying funding sources for transportation and putting a financing mechanism in place to accelerate the construction of transportation projects in Colorado, including North 1-25.
This strategy includes 3 main elements:
- Commit General Fund money to highways in the FY 2016-17 state budget (a first since 2008).
- Pass legislation to create a permanent funding source for transportation
- Refer a ballot measure to voters asking them to approve transportation bonding of $3.5 billion to accelerate projects
Concurrent with the legislative agenda, the Business Alliance is supporting a short-term plan by CDOT to secure grants and other funding to fast-track the widening of I-25 Interstate between Fort Collins and Loveland in the next 3 years. Stay tuned.