As previously reported, there is an opportunity for Northern Colorado to receive a $1.43 million grant to begin the expansion of I-25 north of Highway 66. But the project CDOT has suggested has run into opposition from Weld County and some of its communities that adjoin the highway.
They don’t support the plan to convert an existing general-purpose lane into a toll lane south of Highway 66 to generate revenue. Weld Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer explains that, “Weld County and communities along the southern portion of I-25 gave up funding for other projects years ago in order to put money into improvements on I-25. Now CDOT wants to punish our taxpayers for their foresight by taking a lane they already paid for and converting it into a managed lane.” Weld County officials said they would support the addition of a new, 4th toll lane instead, but CDOT’s research indicates that would not be economically feasible.
There is also an opportunity to apply for federal funding via a federal law known as MAP21 that allocates $105 billion for highway projects – the first long-term highway authorization enacted in nine years. However, a source says that only $500 million is left for 2014. The total cost to expand I-25 was estimated to be $2,178 million in 2009 when the project received federal approval. Clearly the cost in 2014 dollars would be even higher. Furthermore, it must be understood that the MAP21 money will involve intense competition from across the nation.
Sources say that the RAMP grant, if approved, could make Northern Colorado more competitive for federal dollars. But consensus from all the jurisdictions along I-25 (which excludes Greeley and Longmont because their boundaries do not touch the highway) is mandatory — otherwise CDOT will not approve the RAMP grant. In addition, observers say some state legislators oppose the project and question its legality.
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