What’s Next for North I-25?

Tomorrow morning (Wednesday, December 13) is the Regional Issues Summit at the Embassy Suites in Loveland. One of key topics will be North I-25 and funding for transportation.

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s new Director, Mike Lewis, will be a speaker followed by a panel of others working on North I-25 funding.

So far, $550.5M is pledged for North I-25. For a refresher, here’s what has been committed:

  • $350.5M for Segments 7 & 8 (Hwy 14 in Fort Collins to Hwy 402 just south of Loveland)
  • $303.5M investment in Phase One I-25 Express Lane Project (Interim Solution) – additional express toll lane each way Segments 7&8 (Highway 14 in Fort Collins to Highway 402 south of Loveland), rebuild Highway 402 interchange, improvements to Prospect interchange, and a third lane on Highway 34
  • $32.5M Crossroads intersection – rebuilt / widened bridges and leveled out the grade separation difference between the north- and south-bound lanes
  • $14.5M south-bound Berthoud hill climbing lane
  • $200M for Segments 5&6 (Hwy 402 south of Loveland to Hwy 66 north of Longmont

Conversations are underway regarding next steps. With the General Assembly about to convene in less than a month, we are examining our legislative options in addition to working with other groups in Colorado to take a funding measure straight to the ballot next November.

As we look at funding options, here are the key tenets guiding the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance:

  • Funding proposals need to be politically viable with voters and, ideally, with the 2018 legislative leaders and Governor.
  • Funding options need to substantially address Colorado’s transportation funding needs (i.e., ‘solutions’ generate enough revenue to improve the state’s highway system).
  • Bonding is needed to jumpstart projects and cost-efficiently leverage funds.
  • While asking voters to consider new transportation funding measures, Colorado state government leaders need to recommit to the transportation system by using some existing state funds (general fund and CDOT funding).
  • Keep the focus on the state transportation system. There are lots of ideas about transit and sharing back money with counties and local communities. Don’t overdo this and only if a new revenue source(s) has a current intersection with locals (sales tax, gas tax) and aligned with current Highway Users Transportation Fund (HUTF) formula
  • Reasonably address transit needs, but don’t overreach.

There is common ground with other business groups around the state that believe:

  • Colorado has a transportation funding problem.
  • New revenue is needed for the system.
  • The Colorado business community needs to play an active leadership role in seeking and pushing for solutions.
  • Those solutions should be statewide in nature, meaning that it’s in the interest of all of us for the entire state to have a well-functioning transportation system.
  • A specific project list is a must.
  • Money for maintenance of the current system is a must.
  • Bonding is an essential tool to get projects going.
  • Transit needs to be addressed but cannot make an over-sized claim on new resources as was attempted under last session’s HB 1242.

Now we’re trying to work through differences including such things as the type and size of new funding options. Things like sales tax and gas tax increases are being discussed among other things.

All of this will come into sharp focus in the next 45 days.