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Proposed North I-25 Toll Lane Faces First Hurdle

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Colorado Department of Transportation

Traffic congestion along I-25 is not just limited to Denver. It’s a problem in Northern Colorado, too.

To combat this, Colorado Department of Transportation officials want to extend an existing third lane from Longmont all the way to Fort Collins. While many local governments have expressed their support of the initial grant, there’s one sticking point that has yet to be resolved.

“Do you want to do it sooner, or do you want to wait until 2055,” said CDOT region director Johnny Olson at a recent meeting. “That’s the important question we’re trying to get at.”

If communities along the I-25 north corridor opt for the sooner option, the state will have to fund the project with help from a private company, which would manage the proposed toll lane.

CDOT is taking small steps toward this potential plan. Olson and others are pushing for $143 million dollars in competitive state grant dollars this month to help lay the groundwork.

“All that money leverages potential public-private partnerships from [Highway] 66 to [Highway] 14,” he said. “Hopefully this money and getting people engaged… we can get public-private partnerships to come in and help finance that.”

But some communities along I-25 don’t like another part of the plan. In order to entice private partners, the current proposal calls for transforming the existing third lane between Denver and Longmont into a toll lane.

That doesn’t sit well with Weld County commissioner Sean Conway, who says his county prioritized funding and building that third free lane between Denver and Longmont more than a decade ago.

“It’s kind of a little unfair for the communities to the north who didn’t exercise that planning to come back and say, ‘We need one of your free lanes to toll so we can make this other project north of 66 to Highway 14 doable,’” said Conway.

For the process of building a third lane along I-25 to move forward, unanimous consent from local governments like Weld County is needed. To that end, local officials are meeting Wednesday night in the hopes of forming an I-25 coalition--that could offer a single unified voice to the project.

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