Officials broke ground on improvements to the notoriously dangerous Interstate 25 and U.S. Highway 34 cloverleaf interchange at the Promenade Shops at Centerra near Loveland Tuesday as part of the Interim I-25/U.S Highway 34 Interchange Project.
The project, which has a price tag of $8.8 million, is supposed to improve the overall traffic and safety needs and is intended not only to remedy traffic problems but also help benefit Northern Colorado in general.
Daryle Classen, Loveland City Council member of the 1st Ward, said that while Centerra will be footing the full bill since the project received no state or federal funds, three Northern Colorado cities will benefit as well.
“The Centerra metro area raised the money through its own funds, but this will also increase access to Johnstown, Greely and Fort Collins,” Classen said.
The Project has been in the works since about 2003, said Dave Klockman, engineer for the City of Loveland. However, the process of getting approval for the project proved to be the most difficult thing for the project managers to deal with.
“It came about as an idea after the drafting of the master financing plans for the city were getting to it now because there were quite a few hoops we had to jump through,” Klockman said.
In order to be able to complete the project, other than garnering the funds themselves, Centerra and Loveland had to gain approval from both the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. Once granted, things ran smoothly, Klockman said.
The construction phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving 2010, in time for next years holiday shopping season, which Klockman said was one of the main purposes of this upgrade.
“We wanted to increase accessibility to the shopping center, since that was a large source of the money we got for this project. The more people shop, the more funding we will have to get more stuff like this done,” Klockman said.
Classen, a resident of Loveland since 1970, said the city’s need for general road funding is unbelievable. He went onto say that the I-25 and U.S. 34 interchange and the Crossroads Boulevard and I-25 interchange have needed improvements for a while.
“These areas have needed to be brought up to speed since before the shopping center opened. I’d say for at least 10, 15 years,” Classen said.
Tanya Tooley, a freshman business major and former Loveland resident, said she knows full well how problematic the interchange can be.
“In drivers’ education, they used to make us go on and off the clover interchange just so we have some experience with how dangerous it is. To this day it scares me, and I avoid it at all costs,” Tooley said.
Tooley added that she thinks the project is well worth the money and brought up an incident that occurred this past summer when a semi truck tipped over.
“It took them a full day just to stand the thing up. Every time I see a semi on the clover, I get nervous,” Tooley said.
Staff writer Vince Crespin can be reached at email@example.com.