CDOT identifies money for Interstate 25 widening from Monument to Castle Rock

Author: Rachel Riley, The Gazette - October 12, 2017 - Updated: October 12, 2017

Transportation The GapLooking north towards Castle Rock in, December as heavy traffic moves along I-25 which is two lanes in each direction. (Photo by Mark Reis/ The Colorado Springs Gazette)

Commuters, rejoice:

The widening of Interstate 25 from Monument to Castle Rock is a step closer to reality.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has identified $250 million for the project if communities along the stretch can provide additional funding, El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller said at the commissioners’ regular Thursday meeting.

The solution was found in a new state law, previously known as Senate Bill 267, that policymakers expect will generate about $1.8 billion for transportation needs over the next 20 years.

The widening of the roughly 17-mile stretch from two to three lanes in each direction is expected to cost from $290 million to $570 million, depending on what improvements are needed. With the new proposal, along with two questions on the Nov. 7 ballot that could yield at least $16 million in local funds for the project, officials are getting closer to finalizing a plan to foot the hefty bill.

State and regional officials also will apply for a grant this fall from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure For Rebuilding America program.

Under the new plan, construction could begin by summer 2019, CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said in an interview with The Gazette.

Since SB 267 was signed into a law in May, state transportation officials have been prioritizing projects for funding. Their recommendations, including the $250 million for the I-25 widening, will be presented to the state’s transportation commission for approval next week, Ford said.

The new law will generate funding through the sale of state-owned buildings. Those proceeds will be used as bonds for projects, Ford said. Some of the funds also will come from CDOT’s budget, she added. The law requires that about 25 percent of the $1.8 billion generated by the policy goes to rural transportation projects and another 10 percent goes to transit, leaving about $1.2 billion for thoroughfares like I-25.

In the upcoming election, most El Paso County voters will have the chance to answer a question that would allow the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority to spend $10 million in surplus sales tax revenues on the project. In a second question, the county will ask voters’ permission to retain about $14.5 million, including at least $6 million for the widening, in excess county revenues.

More money for construction might come from Douglas County, although the allocations are far from being finalized and wouldn’t be available until 2021. A preliminary budget, which will be presented to Douglas County commissioners on Friday, plans for $10 million to be awarded to the project from 2021 to 2022, said county spokeswoman Wendy Manitta Holmes. The document, a precursor to the county’s annual budgeting process, notes that the allocations could change due to the availability of funds in the future.

Rachel Riley, The Gazette

Rachel Riley, The Gazette