What might Interstate 25 in northern El Paso County and Douglas County look like in 20 years?
That was the purpose of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study, a meeting held in an open-house format Friday at the Chuck Brown Transportation and Environmental Complex in eastern Colorado Springs.
The study for the 34-mile segment of I-25 from Monument to C-470 was put on hold last year so CDOT could focus on design and environmental clearance for the I-25 South Gap Project, which broke ground last September. The project is estimated for completion in early 2022.
CDOT encouraged public input on scenarios to address needs to improve safety, reduce travel delays, improve travel reliability and expand travel choices when funding become available to move forward after the Gap.
Improving I-25 is more than just adding capacity — an express lane is being added in each direction to the Gap, an 18-mile stretch from south of Castle Rock to Monument — although that seems to be the hot-button topic.
“I think the concerns are more in the El Paso County end,” said Tamara Rollison, CDOT regional communications manager. “Most of the people who use that part of the interstate are commuters from Colorado Springs to Denver. They’re very concerned about their commute. More people are coming from Colorado Springs to Denver on a regular basis than Denver to Colorado Springs.”
A similar meeting was held Jan. 15 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Castle Rock. CDOT will gather comments from the public and return to Colorado Springs this spring with final recommendations.
The meeting featured several stations, staffed by CDOT issue experts ranging from construction, engineering, transit and environmental.
The poster that illustrated the evaluation of travel lane scenarios seemed to garner the most interest. It ranged from the impacts of doing nothing to adding maximum capacity.
“We did look at what it would take to meet the demand, and that is essentially doubling the width of I-25, and we simply cannot do that,” said Chuck Attardo, a CDOT region planning and environmental manager who lives in Castle Rock. “The main part of the recommendation is that we’ve got to extend that express lane all the way to C-470 plus another lane. The majority of the trips are coming from northern Colorado Springs into south Denver.”
Other highway improvement recommendations include transit — with enhanced Bustang service — Front Range rail to serve the corridor between Pueblo and Fort Collins and an enhanced weigh station and port of entry, just to name a few.
“It’s good to be part of something that needs a fix,” Attardo said.
In terms of the Gap Project, CDOT is holding a teleconference from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 and an open house at 5 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Woodmoor Improvement Association Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive. For more information, call 720-745-5434 or i25.gap.codot.gov. Text alerts are available by sending I25GAP to 21000.