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Proposed toll lanes turn some in El Paso County against I-25 widening

December 7, 2017 Updated: December 8, 2017 at 10:42 am
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Looking north towards Castle Rock Thursday, Deceber 22, 2016 as heavy traffic moves along I-25 which is two lanes in each direction. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Residents expressed frustration on Thursday night with the state's plan to widen the Interstate 25 "Gap" from Monument to Castle Rock by adding toll lanes.

Several people who attended an update on the project offered the same reasoning: they don't want to pay twice.

"There's four levels of taxes that we're already paying," Colorado Springs resident Dan Yaciuk said, referring to city, county, state and federal taxes. "I wouldn't pay again. I would just sit in traffic and deal with it."

Under the current proposal, a pair of Express Lanes - similar to those on U.S. 36 from Denver to Boulder - would be added to the highway to widen it from two to three lanes in each direction. The revenue generated by the toll lanes would not pay for project construction but would go toward maintenance on the stretch of road and future improvements to the "Gap" corridor, said Carrie DeJiacomo, program engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation, who spoke at the meeting.

CDOT has not said how much the toll would be to use the Express Lanes.

More than 150 people attended the CDOT-sponsored event at the El Paso County Office of Emergency Management on Mark Dabling Boulevard. It followed a similar meeting in Castle Rock on Tuesday.

Construction could begin in late 2018 and end in 2021 if funding for the project is secured, DeJiacomo said during a presentation.

The $350 million project would be paid for by $250 million in revenue that a new state law is expected to generate through the sale of state-owned buildings, $35 million in local taxpayer dollars and a $65 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation; however, officials won't know until the spring if the project has received the federal award.

Local voters approved two ballot measures in November, allowing the county to contribute at least $6 million to the project and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority to allocate $10 million in future tax revenues. The county is considering upping its contribution by $1.5 million in its 2018 budget, which will be finalized next week.

County Commissioner Mark Waller, who played a key role in getting the initiatives on the ballot, said at the meeting his constituents are disappointed with the proposed toll roads.

"They feel like they've done their part," Waller said. "And the citizens of El Paso County truly have."

An online petition on change.org shows that more than 870 people oppose the tolls. The petition was started by Ann Howe, who's running next year to succeed Darryl Glenn as District 1 commissioner.

"I want to arrive on time and alive, and I want my fellow Coloradans to be able to enjoy that, too, without an extra fee," Howe said at the meeting.

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Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108

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