Weld pledges $2 million for I-25 widening

GREELEY — Weld County Commissioners have voted to commit $2 million to help fund an additional lane on Interstate 25 between Colorado Highway 402 in Johnstown and Colorado Highway 14, the Mulberry Street exit east of Fort Collins.

Paired with funding commitments from other Northern Colorado municipalities, including $1 million pledged last week by the town of Windsor, the money will be put toward the local match needed for a grant for which the Colorado Department of Transportation and the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization are applying to help fund the widening project. The cities of Fort Collins, Loveland and Johnstown also are involved in the collaboration.

The deadline for that grant application is Thursday, and officials say they’re likely to learn if they’ve won it by September.

“Improving north I-25 is vital for the economic success of Northern Colorado,” said commission chairman Mike Freeman in a prepared statement. “The funds we are dedicating to improvements on this interstate are an investment in our economic success as a county and as a region.”

The $25 million Transportation Investment-Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant would pay for Phase 1 implementation of the North I-25 environmental impact statement, which which includes construction of the additional lane. Improvements also would include replacement of a bridge over the Cache la Poudre River to accommodate the Poudre River Trail, replacement of a Union Pacific Bridge south of Crossroads Boulevard and widening of all other structures needed to accommodate a third lane.

In addition, North Front Range has applied for a The Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant.

“The partnership between CDOT and the Northern Colorado elected officials has been outstanding for I-25,” said Johnny Olson, CDOT’s Region 4 transportation director.

Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer noted that almost 700,000 people will call Northern Colorado home by 2020 and even more will travel through the region on the corridor. “It is imperative we work together to improve this road,” she said, “not only for commerce and industry but also for the increasing residential population in Northern Colorado.”

According to CDOT projections, Weld County’s population is expected to increase to 567,000 and Larimer’s to 481,000 by 2040, adding up to a total that is double what the population of the two counties was in 2012.

As a short-term solution, CDOT has said,  the additional lane would likely be tolled similar to the recently completed project on U.S. Highway 36 between Boulder and Denver.

Meanwhile, work is to begin soon on the overpass at Crossroads Boulevard in Loveland, the exit just north of the U.S. 34 Ceneterra exit, as well as a climbing lane along the interstate on a hill near Berthoud.

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