~ by Rick Langenberg ~
The drive between the Teller County/lower Ute Pass area and city of Denver could get shorter and less congested in future years.
However, a few substantial funding hurdles must still be overcome, so don’t get your hopes up too much just yet.
But at least some state momentum is building in dealing with a key problem area for I-25 motorists in traveling along the Front Range. The I-25 corridor was one key project that was promoted by state lawmakers, but then crashed at the 11th hour, near the close of the 2017 legislative session. As a result, many local leaders expressed disappointment towards the lack of success of the recent session, once dubbed as the time for grappling with significant infrastructure and transportation improvements throughout Colorado.
However, a recent rebound is occurring that may reactivate some of these dead plans through Senate bill 267. This effort is expected to generate $1.8 billion in transportation funds.
Last week, the Colorado Transportation Commission said yes to a Colorado Department of Transportation proposal for funding assistance, pending the successful obtaining of a competitive federal grant. Ultimately, officials want to complete a highly ambitious $350 million infrastructure project on I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock. If all the hurdles are mounted, this project would add a third lane in both directions of I-25.
The project has been heavily supported by the Teller County commissioners and other leaders in the region, who see this as a boom for transportation in the region. At one time, this was considered the lion’s share of a huge potential pot of transportation monies eyed by state lawmakers, and that could have been part of a key sales tax proposition.
However, that tax may not be necessary now.
CDOT recently discovered an additional pot of $250 million in funding that could help pave the way for the work. These funds, coupled with other monies and revenue from a grant administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, could complete the funding cycle.
The adding of an additional lane in both directions could make this drive much quicker and safer, according to officials. This would widen a needed gap on the I-25 interchange that has frustrated motorists for years.
This project has been cited as a must for the future of the Front Range transportation system. The approval of the project by the state Transportation Commission was considered one of the initial potential roadblocks.
However, a few key funding hurdles remain.
Two related issues to this funding will appear on the November ballot for many El Paso County voters, dealing with Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority monies, possibly allocated for this project. In addition, another “De-Bruceing” proposition could free up another pot of available money for the improvements.
Hwy. 67 Work Continues
On the local home front, motorist delays are continuing as $10.4 million worth of Hwy. 67 improvements enter the final stretch of construction work. These deal with a key stretch of the highway between Divide and Cripple Creek, and another section extending between Woodland Park and Westceek.
This work has been lauded by local leaders, but some business operators and residents have questioned if the additional paving is needed along this well-maintained road. During the week, motorists have confronted regular delays, extending to 20 minute waits.
They have been encouraged to pursue alternative routes.
The Hwy. 67 work, which doesn’t occur on the weekends, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.