Despite an interruption from Mother Nature, the Colorado Department of Transportation is moving forward with efforts to get money laid out to expand the northern section of Interstate 25.
I-25 will only get more congested as Weld County, in particular, grows in population.
But any projects set to be considered by the Transportation Commission that were affected by the floods will be deferred until January, and the money to be allocated to the chosen projects will be held, according to Amy Ford, CDOT director of communications.
CDOT in late summer proposed a toll lane from Colo. 7 to Colo. 66 to raise the $100 million needed to get the I-25 expansion going, which officials say could otherwise take up to 75 years to complete. The toll lane would be an existing third lane built on I-25 for those who wish to move faster.
But Weld County commissioners say the plan is unfair to the communities that invested taxpayer money in adding that third lane.
I-25 is split into several transportation planning districts, and those on the southern end — including Mead, Erie, Frederick, Firestone and Dacono — chose to defer other major projects to add that lane.
In part to address that issue, Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer proposed an I-25 Coalition, inviting communities along the corridor to meet earlier this month.
The coalition was well-received, both among the communities off of I-25 and by CDOT, said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway.
He said the coalition will identify challenges and address them in a uniform way, and not just for the current toll lane proposal.
In fact, he said there was very little talk of the state grant, called Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships, that CDOT officials are seeking to move the I-25 expansion forward.
“One thing expressed openly is the divisions in this region have been used against us by others to divide and conquer us, and we can’t allow that to continue,” Conway said.
He said all of the communities along I-25 came to the meeting except for Dacono, Johnstown and North Glenn, which expressed interest in coming but had scheduling conflicts. The next meeting is set for Oct. 2, Conway said.
Conway said commissioners aren’t opposed to managed lanes to create new lanes, but they are opposed to tolling existing free lanes.
“The board feels that the good planning and hard work of those that preceded us should be respected.”