Will The I-25 Construction In Northern Colorado Ever End? CDOT Offers A Glimpse At When
The massive I-25 expansion project underway in Northern Colorado will cause more traffic lane shifts and temporary closures this summer as crews race to meet a 2024 completion deadline.
Highlights include a four-month closure of State Highway 56 in Berthoud (official dates TBD), new bridge openings at U.S. Highway 34 and Prospect Rd., shoulder paving and some frontage road closures, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“We’re almost halfway done,” said Stephanie Gramberg, construction manager for the project during a recent tour. “People don’t like construction. I get it. But hopefully by 2024 it’ll all be open and everyone can breathe.”
The work centers around the addition of a third, tolled express lane in each direction from Fort Collins to Berthoud. Planners say once it’s finished, the expansion will ease congestion in the growing region. The long-term plan is to eventually add a fourth general lane in each direction once future funding becomes available.
The project kicked off in 2018 after local governments banded together to fill funding gaps. Originally, construction was set to wrap up in 2022. But planners have added several new elements since then as more money became available, tacking on years to the timeline.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had no impact on the schedule, according to CDOT.
In the meantime, the ongoing construction has meant more headaches for drivers. Day-to-day updates are being posted on CDOT’s website.
“In Colorado, any summer is going to mean busy construction,” said Jared Fiel, CDOT’s regional communications director. “But we have a lot going on. I think because we have so much going on in so many segments, you’re going to see a lot more activity.”
Poudre River bridges close to finished
Crews are putting the finishing touches on two bridges over the Poudre River in Fort Collins. In 2013, they were covered in water during historic flooding.
The new bridges are eight feet higher than before. They also make room to connect the Poudre River Trail between Fort Collins and Greeley — one of the few remaining links to finishing the long-awaited regional bike and walking trail.
“We’re getting the road out of the flood plain, but we're also making room for the trail as well as it's also a wildlife crossing,” Fiel said. “So it really has three purposes.”
U.S. Highway 34 and Prospect Rd. exits get new bridges
Later this summer, CDOT expects to be able to move drivers onto newly built bridges at two of the region’s busiest interchanges.
The Prospect Road exit in Fort Collins hasn’t been updated since 1966, according to CDOT. The new bridge will have new turn lanes and signals.
Several major developments are slated for the land surrounding the exit, including three neighborhoods and a new school.
“Prospect is a major thoroughfare in Fort Collins, but it looks like a little dinky county road,” Fiel said. “This is going to be a great entrance to the community.”
CDOT hopes to have the new Prospect bridge open by the beginning of August.
The U.S. Highway 34 bridge in Loveland, once open this fall, will have three through lanes and one auxiliary lane in each direction. Crews are also building new on and off ramps, signals and safety walls.
Kechter Road bridges will have bike lanes
Work is set to begin on the Kechter Road bridge this summer. The crossing is a popular route for local cyclists to cross I-25, so planners designed new bike lanes. The new bridge will also have sidewalks.
Expect the bridge to be closed for several months for work later this fall (date still TBD).
Mobility hubs taking shape
Crews are putting the finishing touches on new mobility hubs in two locations along the interstate.
The median-loading Bustang stops, located between north and southbound lanes in Loveland and Berthoud, will change the way riders access the state’s growing commuter bus transit network. Pedestrians will access the new stops via tunnels being built underneath the road.
“The idea here is to save time and add safety,” said Chris Boespflug, project director. “It’s incredibly efficient. We’ll shave I think 13 minutes off of the current routes.”
The idea is that local transit agencies in Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley will eventually link up with the mobility hubs, creating a regional network anchored to the I-25 stops.
Planners secured funding for the projects through pandemic stimulus packages and other grants. Once completed, they’ll be the first of their kind in the state.
“People can park here instead of having to drive down to Denver,” Fiel said. “It’s going to be a game changer.”
Expect a monthslong closure of Highway 56 in Berthoud
CDOT is planning to shut down Highway 56 in Berthoud for “no more than” 140 days later this summer. The exact date is still up in the air.
The full closure is required for crews to “safely and efficiently reconstruct the interchange into a new configuration,” according to CDOT. When finished, the exit will have two new roundabouts at the north and southbound ramps.
A link to a presentation on the closure is on CDOT’s website.
The list of projects goes on
More than a dozen other projects along the roughly 20-mile stretch of highway are also slated to take place.
The list includes six bridge replacements. Crews plan to remove existing bridges over the Great Western Railway, Big and Little Thompson Rivers and Larimer County Road 20.
Two interchanges in Johnstown (Larimer County Road 16 and CO 60) will get reconfigured later this summer.
Smaller projects include new water quality ponds, ports of entry redesigns and construction of a parallel arterial road between Loveland and Berthoud meant to replace frontage roads in the area.
Officials ask drivers to stay alert
With traffic lanes constantly shifting, construction managers are asking residents to be patient and pay extra attention when they’re driving through the region.
The stretch of I-25 has seen several major accidents in recent months. The wrecks have temporarily shut down the interstate in both directions and delayed construction crews.
“I think most people get on autopilot when they get on (I-25),” Fiel said. “You can’t really do that anymore.”