By Dillon Thomas

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4)– After several years of planning and negotiations, Gov. John Hickenlooper joined other officials to break ground on the Northern Colorado Interstate 25 expansion project. The project will bring an extra lane to north and southbound traffic in 2021.

The $350 million project will add an HOV toll lane in each direction, between Johnstown and Fort Collins.

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“This is the artery for the economy,” Hickenlooper said.

Hickenlooper applauded the bipartisan effort, and work by Colorado Department of Transportation staff, for making the project a reality.

“If you have logistical connections, good things happen, your economy keeps growing,” Hickenlooper said.

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Several mayors, lawmakers, and other officials from Northern Colorado were in attendance for the groundbreaking event in Loveland. Hickenlooper suggested the heavy flow of traffic, including many truck drivers, was proof of the interstate’s importance to the region, and state.

Stephanie Podtburg, owner of Johnstown Barber Shop and La Bella Tanning Spa, said the expansion project could potentially increase revenue at her businesses.

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“Better flow of traffic will be very beneficial for all of our local businesses,” Podtburg said. “As a person who commutes myself, both north and south, that highway can get pretty congested.”

While those unwilling to carpool, or pay the toll, will be unable to use the expanded lanes, Podtburg said she still hoped it would alleviate traffic for many.

“People are coming to Northern Colorado, whether the interstate is wider, or not,” Podtburg said.

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The project will also create new pathways for both cyclists, and pedestrians.

“All of these investments are going to outlive us, they are going to outlive our children,” Hickenlooper said. “All (of) these are investments that will allow us to pass along a state to the next generation, that we are all proud of.”

The gravel that will be used to create the extra lanes is recycled from the US 34 canyon renovations completed earlier in 2018. The I-25 Express Lanes project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.


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