The North I-25 Coalition, a group of elected officials from jurisdictions along the highway, is continuing to fight for funding to expand I-25 — when they’re not busy fighting with each other and CDOT. At the group’s most recent meeting CDOT officials said that the proposed RAMP project (to toll I-25 from Highway 7 to 66 in order to get the revenue to begin adding a third lane north of 66) isn’t viable. Representatives from private companies that construction and build tollroads said we simply do not have enough volume to generate the money needed to make the proposal work.
Since the Coalition couldn’t reach consensus on the tolling project any way, CDOT’s announcement about the project doesn’t change anything. The real problem is that Northern Colorado only has until April 7th to submit its plan for the grant. After much debate the Coalition agreed to request an extension from CDOT. Perhaps with more time, CDOT and the Coalition can come up with a viable project.
While we must remain optimistic about expanding I-25, the most recent news isn’t good. Competing for federal money through the latest authorization (MAP21) puts us into a cut-throat national competition. Tollroad concessionaires are becoming more and more risk adverse.
While Congressman Cory Gardner has vowed to fight for Northern Colorado, we need the support of Colorado’s entire delegation and even that might not be enough. Elected officials tell us that the businesses of Northern Colorado need to engage. The Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance is building a business coalition to do just that.
We also need state support for transportation infrastructure in general and Northern Colorado in particular. In a meeting yesterday with some of the most powerful Democratic legislators in the state, they expressed little support or interest in helping us get transportation funding. Instead the leadership complained that Colorado voters have no appetite for any new taxes as if a transportation tax is the only solution.
In the meantime it would be helpful if local elected leaders spent less time criticizing CDOT and more time building a constructive partnership with them. In addition, we need Larimer County to participate to balance to voice of the Weld County Commissioners. At the last meeting of the North I-25 Coalition, no one from Larimer County was present.