By Jeff Todd
LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – A badly-needed expansion to Interstate 25 is coming to a stretch between Johnstown and the northern edge of Fort Collins.
“It’s a huge deal. It’s phenomenal. When we first started as an I-25 coalition about four years ago, we were told we wouldn’t see improvements along this corridor until 2075,” said Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.
The Colorado Department of Transportation announced on Thursday construction will start this summer with three lanes in each direction expected to be completed in 2021.
The project will concentrate on the stretch from Highway 402 near Johnstown up to Highway 14 near Fort Collins.
“We need this additional lane. The State of Colorado needs this additional lane. We think of I-25 as Main Street Colorado. It’s that important to this state, and it’s that important to us in Northern Colorado that we get an express lane built,” Kirkmeyer said.
Over the past few years many communities have come together to help raise the money necessary for the project.
Larimer and Weld Counties, Fort Collins, Berthoud, Johnstown, Windsor, Loveland, Timnath, McWhinney and others came together to raise $55 million. A federal grant also brought money to the table to help CDOT reach the $248 million price tag.
The project will also connect trails that were previously blocked by the interstate and new bridges will be built. They will be raised to better handle flooding in the future.
“It’s really about securing our economic future because this is a major freight corridor, but it’s also about improving people’s lives,” said Kirkmeyer. “We’re building an express way because we expressly want you to be able to get there.”
The configuration will look similar to U.S. 36. The “express” lane, meaning it will be tolled if a vehicle doesn’t have three or more people in it. Two other lanes will be free general-purpose lanes.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.