by Pam Zubeck
I had advocated to CDOT that the full environmental review for the I-25 widening project start immediately. We should not waste time and money to first do the PEL study, then still have to do the required environmental study before we can widen I-25. Today’s CDOT announcement is an important step to getting this vital road construction project done as soon as possible!
I will continue to fight for this I-25 widening project as a priority for CDOT and for state transportation funding.
DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced plans to accelerate the environmental and planning process for improvements on I-25 from C470 to Colorado Springs, with attention to the gap area from Monument to Castle Rock. By accelerating the environmental planning for I-25, CDOT will have a project ready for construction by summer of 2019, with a project fully constructed between Castle Rock to Monument in five years, if funding is identified for construction.
“As congestion continues to build along I-25, CDOT has decided that this project can't wait,” said Shailen Bhatt, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. “We're going to do our part and get ready for construction in two years. Now we need others to help us come up with the $300 to $400 million we need to build it.”
CDOT is able to accelerate the funding of the environmental planning thanks to the financing of the C-470 Express Lanes project. CDOT plans to use funds that otherwise were allocated to serve as a “backstop” for loans that will be financing the project. As the details of the loans have been finalized in the last two weeks, it became clear that fewer of those funds would be necessary, allowing CDOT to redirect $15 million of those funds to I-25 environmental and preconstruction work. Those funds, along with the $6 million that is already programmed for the current Programmatic & Environmental Linkages (PEL) study, will allow the department to prepare for a construction project, should construction funds become available.
“Douglas County obviously shares CDOT’s prioritization of this project and has demonstrated our support as a funding partner, committing $250,000 to the early study and associated process,” said Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge. “As history shows, CDOT and Douglas County, and many others have successfully partnered to improve many of the seven state highways running through Douglas County during the past decade, with a few projects underway right now. With that in mind, we are committed to doing what is required to organize this coalition of like-minded leaders, working with CDOT, the City of Colorado Springs and the FHWA, on a construction-funding solution so that we can meet our 2019 ground-breaking commitment.”
“We urge the state of Colorado to make the widening of the I-25 corridor between Monument and Castle Rock a vital and immediate priority. As the area experiences record growth, we simply can’t afford to wait the previously proposed 10 years, dragging out the impacts of congestion restricting commerce and travel between Colorado Springs and Denver,” noted John Suthers, Mayor of Colorado Springs. “This is an improvement that will have immediate positive impact on safety and the economy and we commend CDOT and our neighboring governments for their support in working to streamline the process and get that section of the interstate construction-ready as quickly as possible.”
CDOT does not plan to only provide the newly available funds to the planning project, but is also committed, in participation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to streamlining and accelerating the environmental and pre-construction processes, including running a NEPA process on the “gap” (the 2-lane section between Castle Rock and Monument) concurrently with the Planning and Environmental Linkage Study that looks at the complete corridor, from C-470 to Colorado Springs.