Let’s finish widening North I-25

After decades of no work on Interstate 25 north of Longmont, a lot is now happening on I-25 between Fort Collins and Berthoud.

And use of the term “decades” is not hyperbole. Until the southbound climbing lane on Berthoud Hill opened in early 2017, there had been no new capacity added to the interstate north of Highway 66 since it was built in the late 1960s. Half-a-century, during which time the population in the Larimer-Weld counties region quadrupled.

Thanks to many people, that has changed as you can see with your own eyes when you try to navigate through various construction zones.

Recently, three milestones were celebrated.

  • This summer, work commenced on a rebuild of the Prospect Road interchange in east central Fort Collins.
  • Ground was broken on Sept. 12 for the widening of Segment 6 of North I-25, which runs from just south of Highway 402 (the exit south of Loveland) to Highway 56 in Berthoud.
  • Then on Oct. 18, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held on top of the new Highway 402 bridge that goes over I-25. This project involved flipping the intersection so that 402 passes over I-25 instead of under it.

Additionally, the Crossroads intersection in Loveland has been improved and a third lane is being constructed north between Crossroads and Harmony Road in Fort Collins.

To keep up on all of this you can connect with CDOT several ways:

The project website:  https://www.codot.gov/projects/north-i-25/johnstown-to-fort-collins/johnstown-fort-collins 

Sign up for project or travel alerts:  511.cotrip.org 

See scheduled lane closures:  codot.gov/travel/scheduled-lane-closures.html 

Connect with us on Twitter (@coloradodot) and Facebook (facebook.com/coloradodot)

While all this long-delayed attention is quite welcome, there was no mention in the above update about the stretch between Berthoud south to Longmont.  At this writing, no funds have been designated for this part of I-25, known as Segment 5 by CDOT.

I haven’t heard a final estimate, but the cost to widen Segment 5 would probably be in the range of $325 million to $350 million.

Leaders in Northern Colorado have asked the Transportation Commission and CDOT leaders to consider funding this North I-25 Gap from Senate Bill 267 funds. SB 17-267 was passed in 2017 and allowed the state government to raise funds for road infrastructure projects by issuing certificates of participation, a financing tool backed by state property.  North I-25 has already benefited from SB 267.

In addition to SB 267, the options are a bit limited. Money from the state’s general fund should be considered, of course. After years of paying for nearly everything except for roads out of the general fund, the state over the past several sessions did commit some money to transportation. It would be good to see that continue.

Last fall voters were offered an overly large state transportation sales tax measure and emphatically declined it. The size of the tax had been inflated by proponents, against the advice of the Fix North I-25 Business Alliance, with the argument of “go big or go home.” The thinking was that the need for transportation funding was so big that it required a big solution.

At the same time, polling showed voter support for a modest 5 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax indexed to inflation. And, there is very strong public support for significantly increasing the surtax on electric vehicles, whose owners pay very little to use the highway system.

A transportation funding research project this summer shows there are no elegant solutions for Colorado’s highways. The research was led by Barbara Koelzer, on behalf of Fix North I-25 in conjunction with the I-25 Coalition and the North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization. There are two key conclusions: there are no untapped pots of gold for transportation; states that have added more new funds have largely done so via increases in state gas taxes.

In conclusion, without over-thinking it, let’s continue the great momentum on North I-25 by using simple commonsense funding options to close the North I-25 Gap.

David May is the president and CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach him at dmay@fcchamber.org.

After decades of no work on Interstate 25 north of Longmont, a lot is now happening on I-25 between Fort Collins and Berthoud.

And use of the term “decades” is not hyperbole. Until the southbound climbing lane on Berthoud Hill opened in early 2017, there had been no new capacity added to the interstate north of Highway 66 since it was built in the late 1960s. Half-a-century, during which time the population in the Larimer-Weld counties region quadrupled.

Thanks to many people, that has changed as you can see with your own eyes when you try to navigate through various construction zones.

Recently, three milestones were celebrated.

  • This summer, work commenced on a rebuild of the Prospect Road interchange in east central Fort Collins.
  • Ground was broken on Sept. 12 for the widening of Segment 6 of North I-25, which runs from just south of Highway 402 (the exit south of Loveland) to Highway 56 in Berthoud.
  • Then on Oct. 18, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held on top of the new Highway 402 bridge that goes over I-25. This project involved flipping the intersection so that 402 passes over I-25 instead of under it.

Additionally, the Crossroads intersection in Loveland has been improved and a third lane is being constructed north between Crossroads and Harmony Road in Fort Collins.

To keep up on all of this you can connect with CDOT several ways:

The…