The Interstate 25/Colo. 392 interchange that some said would never get a second look received a $20-million face-lift that has it looking like an A-list star.
The interchange once frustrated drivers as they got caught in bottleneck traffic, going on and coming off exit 262, but at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon, they celebrated along with government officials from Windsor, Fort Collins and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The project, in which Windsor and Fort Collins contributed $2.5 million each and CDOT funded $17.5 million, replaced the old two-lane bridge on Colo. 392 over I-25 with the current four-lane bridge — two lanes in each direction — as well as a left-turn lane in each direction. CDOT spokeswoman Ashley Mohr said a 6-foot bike lane and a 6-and-a-half foot sidewalk also were added on each side of the bridge. The frontage road on the west side of the interchange was realigned and the ramps were designed to accommodate more traffic. A 90-space carpool lot was built at the southwest corner of the interchange.
Officials said the interchange will not only ease traffic congestion in the area, but it also will help enhance the area’s economic competitiveness and improve safety by accounting for a projected 30 percent decline in crashes.
Officials talked about the collaborative efforts between Fort Collins, Windsor and CDOT in getting the project built in 15 months. It wasn’t supposed to be completed until the summer of 2013. Not only was CDOT chief engineer Tim Harris proud of how soon the project got finished, but he also touted the way it was built on budget.
“Today is a special day for all of northern Colorado,” Harris said. “We finished months ahead of schedule despite limited resources. With the completion of this interchange project, we’ve shown our capacity to work together to accomplish much-needed improvements to our transportation system, despite the financial hardships we’ve all experienced in the past few years.”
Windsor mayor John Vázquez said he always believed Windsor would be able to sit down with Fort Collins officials and find a solution that would address everybody’s concerns.
“It was a great display of what partnership and good leadership, both boards being willing to listen and being willing to hear each other’s concerns,” Vázquez said. “It’s a great project. It’s an entryway. It’s Fort Collins’ southern most gateway, and our main street. I knew that we could figure it out.”
Windsor town manager Kelly Arnold said the end result of the project shows what happens when a town and city work together.
“We believe that this area directly is going to be positively affected economically,” Arnold said. “We see future business success, and future development in and around this interchange. We see nothing but positives from this.”
Fort Collins mayor Karen Weitkunat said the Fort Collins-Windsor-CDOT example is how things will get done in the future.
“Nobody’s going to get money. Nobody’s going to get projects done all alone,” she said. “It has to be cooperative. I think there’s a lot of opportunity here coming. It’s not just an intersection to move cars. The interchange does far more, and it’s going to be gateways to our community.”
The business owners around the interchange had to be patient throughout construction, which started Aug. 1, 2011.
Todd Wilson, manager of Otie’s Wine & Spirits in the shopping center southeast of the interchange, said he’s happy the project is completed and that business is starting to come back.
“We feel it was well needed,” said Wilson, who has been in business in the same location for 12 years. “We’re starting to see an uptick, so that’s good. It’s beautiful. It’s a nice-looking bridge.”