It’s been a long time coming but the underpass connecting the east and west sides of I-25 along Boxelder Creek is complete, though at the time of this writing, not yet open to the public. “The clean-up work should be done and the chain removed by the end of the week,” town administrator Larry Lorentzen said on Nov. 11.
The need for a safe way for pedestrians to cross I-25 arose as early as 2000 according to Lorentzen. “By 2005 we had determined that an overpass would be too expensive and began considering an underpass,” Lorentzen said.
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Before work could begin on an underpass, water from Coal Creek, which added to the volume of Boxelder Creek, had to be diverted to Clark Reservoir. Wetlands in the area were assessed and a plan was made to mitigate any impact. The Colorado Department of Transportation contributed a “town enhancement grant” of $195,000 early on and a second grant was obtained in March 2015. The town of Wellington covered the difference between the grant amount and the total cost of $270,000 for the project using funds from the general fund and from a pedestrian impact fee levied on housing developers. The town also paid to have a retaining wall built to support an existing underground electrical cable.
Students attending Rice and Eyestone Elementary schools will benefit from having a safe way to cross the busy highway. “It was a good project.” Lorentzen said. “We had hoped to have the underpass open by the start of school. That didn’t happen, but it will definitely be open by the start of the new semester. We have tentative plans for an official opening ceremony in the spring.”