North I-25 improvements move onto the drawing board

After nearly a decade of study and public input, the Federal Highway Administration has signed off on the Environmental Impact Statement for the North I-25 improvement plan between Wellington and Denver. That will allow the Colorado Department of Transportation to begin designing new lanes, interchange upgrades, express bus stations, commuter bus and rail service and congestion management programs – and finding the $2.18 billion to pay for them.

“This marks the end of the EIS and the beginning of a multi-modal plan that will greatly improve transportation along the north I-25 corridor as well as the region,” said CDOT Region 4 Transportation Director Johnny Olson in a prepared statement. “However, we still have a great deal of work to accomplish that includes identifying funding and designing the improvements. CDOT will continue to work with all of the local jurisdictions and FHWA to implement the improvements.”

CDOT can now seek federal funding for improvements along the 60 miles of interstate, which will be completed in stages.

The first phase, estimated to cost $670 million, will include reconstructing I-25 between Colorado Highways 14 and 392 and adding one lane in each direction that would ultimately become part of the future eight-lane configuration from Highway 66 in Longmont to Highway 14.

Phase one also involves upgrading six interchanges, including at Colorado 14 and Prospect Road in Fort Collins, and building a new interchange at US Highway 34 and Centerra Parkway in Loveland. Six express bus stations will be constructed along I-25, US 34 and Harmony Road, to facilitate service from Fort Collins and Greeley to downtown Denver and Denver International Airport. Several of these express stations will also share lots for carpooling, and commuter bus service will be implemented along US 85 between Greeley and Denver.

During phase one, CDOT will be using state funds to purchase rights-of-way for future construction of a commuter rail line connecting Fort Collins to Longmont then tying into the FasTracks line to downtown Denver.

CDOT officials said that design is currently under way for the segments between Highways 14 and 392 as well as for a tolled express lane between Highways 56 and 66. Initial estimates are that this first phase could be completed by 2035, given current funding, but there is no timeline for when construction will begin.

Funding for additional phases or specific projects within those phases will be determined through CDOT’s statewide planning process.

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