November 2, 2001

CDOT puts interchange along Diagonal Highway on hold

LONGMONT ? An $18 million interchange at the intersection of the Diagonal Highway and Colorado Highway 52 near IBM Corp.’s campus has been put on hold indefinitely.

Construction on the project was scheduled to begin during late summer of 2004, said Mark Gosselin, Colorado Department of Transportation’s Boulder resident engineer.

Gosselin said the state’s construction schedule on many projects has been pushed back because the state transportation budget has been revised to reflect the slowdown in the economy.

CDOT said it received nearly $200 million less in funding this year than expected, and expects to receive about $225 million less than budgeted in 2002, barring legislative intervention.

The funding for the interchange at that Diagonal-Highway 52 intersection also would have paid for minor roadway improvements to the intersection of the Diagonal and Jay Road.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) board approved at its Oct. 17 meeting the interchange’s addition to its regional Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). ?Our board is supportive of that project for the design. Construction funds are a ways out,? said George Scheuernstuhl, DRCOG director of transportation services.

DRCOG had for many years included an interchange at Jay Road and the Diagonal Highway in its TIP, Boulder County Commissioner Ron Stewart said. It had become clear that an interchange was strongly needed to ease traffic flow at major junctions of the Diagonal Highway, he said. Thus, earlier this year Boulder and Longmont mayors, chambers of commerce, citizens and environmental groups joined to push the interchange at Highway 52.

?It seems to be where the bottleneck is now, and it’s an intersection of two state highways,? Stewart said. ?With east county growth, traffic on Highway 52 is accelerating rapidly.?

Scheuernstuhl was surprised that the project was slowing. ?As far as we’re concerned, the funding is there ? CDOT has told us the funding is there ? and the project is moving forward. Anything to the contrary is an action that CDOT has taken.?

Boulder’s and Longmont’s transit departments also will ask in the next couple of months that the Regional Transportation District (RTD) increase bus frequency along the Diagonal Highway between Boulder and Longmont, said Phil Greenwald, Longmont transportation planner. RTD, which manages mass transit systems for the six-county Denver metropolitan area, will then decide if it can afford to do so, Greenwald said. The plan includes a series of bus stoplights that would allow buses to easily traverse the Diagonal Highway, also known as State Highway 119, similar to such lights allowing easier bus movement through downtown Denver, Stewart said.

Additional funding for transportation projects around the county may not be far away if Boulder County voters approve a 0.1 percent tax increase on the Nov. 6 ballot. The proposed 7-year tax would reap $5 million per year to spend on reducing congestion and improving safety, transit and traffic flows. Some projects suggested for the funds include:

* Widening to four lanes both Airport Road from the Diagonal Highway to Pike Road in Longmont and Valmont Road from 57th to 61st streets in Boulder;

* Bicycle lanes for Olde Stage Road and for Lefthand Canyon Drive from U.S. Highway 36 in Boulder to Jamestown;

* Overlay with shoulders on East County Line Road from Erie to the Diagonal Highway, including the Diagonal-Highway 52 intersection;

* Regional transit and trail improvements;

* Intersection improvements, signals and turn lanes at areas determined by priority.

In general, Denver area transportation funding comes from state general revenues, taxes and fees, as well as federal general revenues and taxes that trickle down to the CDOT transportation commission for allocation. CDOT selects most regional transportation projects with the remaining funds chosen by DRCOG. RTD allocates some funding for mass transit.Contact Alisha Jeter Rhines at (303) 440-4950 or e-mail research@bcbr.com.

LONGMONT ? An $18 million interchange at the intersection of the Diagonal Highway and Colorado Highway 52 near IBM Corp.’s campus has been put on hold indefinitely.

Construction on the project was scheduled to begin during late summer of 2004, said Mark Gosselin, Colorado Department of Transportation’s Boulder resident engineer.

Gosselin said the state’s construction schedule on many projects has been pushed back because the state transportation budget has been revised to reflect the slowdown in the economy.

CDOT said it received nearly $200 million less in funding this year than expected, and expects to receive about $225 million less than budgeted in…

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