Will this road lead to progress?

PHOTO BY Blaine Howerton. Overpasses like this one near Berthoud are aging and will require complete re-design.

Interstate construction in Northern Colorado is scheduled to continue through 2021.

By: Shailen Bhatt

Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director for the Colorado Department of Transportation

The days are gone when you could go between Fort Collins and Denver in an hour or less. Colorado’s rising population continues edging north, and Larimer and Weld counties are among the fastest growing in the country. While business is booming in northern Colorado, our infrastructure isn’t keeping pace.

By 2040, Larimer County’s population will more than double, and Weld County’s population will grow by 111 percent. The Colorado Department of Transportation is planning for a 60 percent increase in daily trips along north Interstate 25. While the quality of life in Northern Colorado can’t be beat, this two-lane stretch of highway is no longer able to accommodate such demand.

CDOT recognizes this, which is why we’ve made significant investments along the north I-25 corridor to improve safety, capacity and trip reliability, making way for stable economic development and growth in the northern parts of our state. We’ve set aside more than $145 million to make this a reality, and the work, as you’ve likely seen, is already in progress.

PHOTO BY Blaine Howerton. The I25 widening project near Loveland at Centerra is often congested. Currently, two lanes of traffic has been diverted to the other side of the highway, while a bridge is being re-constructed.

Currently, CDOT is working to widen and raise the I-25 bridges at Crossroads Boulevard to improve safety and alleviate congestion and delays at an interchange that isn’t functioning at full capacity. These improvements will provide better access to amenities for the public and help businesses better utilize I-25 for the transportation of goods and services. In addition, this project is a necessary first step to make way for the future expansion of I-25 from Longmont to Fort Collins.

Beginning early next year, the first part of the North I-25 Express Lanes: Johnstown to Fort Collins project will address the most congested section of I-25 in northern Colorado and expand it to become a six-lane highway, with an Express Lane in each direction. A new bus stop for Bustang will be included and several bridges along the corridor will be replaced and expanded to meet the demands of this rapidly growing region and important economic portal.

PHOTO BY Blaine Howerton. Traffic stacks up under dated road and train overpasses, which require reconstruction.

In the past, our biggest hurdle to making improvements on north I-25 was funding. This project was identified as a priority, but CDOT didn’t have funding available to get it done until 2035. So our local partners — Larimer and Weld counties, Fort Collins, Berthoud, Johnstown, Loveland, Windsor, Timnath and the Centerra Metro District — recognized this and stepped up in a big way to collectively raise $25 million to get this project into action, shaving 14 years off the completion date (2021) of adding three lanes on this stretch. This is an incredible example of how strong local collaboration can fast track a project.

CDOT is proud to play a part in the history of northern Colorado through these investments in its future. Our hats are off to the local communities partnering with us to make it happen.

Shailen Bhatt serves as the executive director for CDOT, where he is charged with leading the department in planning for and addressing Colorado’s transportation needs while focusing on safety and making people’s lives better.

PHOTO BY Blaine Howerton. Construction signs dot the exits and side roads along I25 in Northern Colorado.

2 Comments

  1. Will I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs ever be expanded to be more than 2 lanes each way? It is incomprehensible that this highway that goes from the Canadian to Mexican border has less lanes than Speer Blvd. between the state’s two largest cities!

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