Nov 132006
 
Authors: Anne Farrell

Northglenn-Imagine the interchange of 104th Avenue and Interstate 25 and seeing a stop sign backed by a field of grazing cows, no houses, no stores-just open space.

That is what the highway looked like to Jessie Logan, a resident of Northglenn, when she moved into the town in 1960.

Logan was in attendance, alongside 20 other residents, Monday night at a public meeting to discuss the future of the I-25 corridor. The meeting was held to hear the opinions of those who would be affected by the North I-25 EIS project.

“We just had a stop sign, there wasn’t even a light,” said Logan during the open discussion portion of the evening.

The face of transit throughout Colorado has been and will continue to change as the Front Range area is expected to double in employment population in the upcoming years.

The North I-25 EIS project presented three alternatives for connecting Northern Colorado-Fort Collins, Longmont and Greeley-to the metro Denver area and was developed following public meetings showing a desire for new transportation options in 2003.

“The main reason for this process is to make sure we are picking a viable solution with the least amount of impact,” said Mindy Crane, a public relations coordinator Colorado Department of Transportation.

The first option, or “No action,” would make improvements on the existing highway structure without any changes made to the capacity of the highway as a whole.

Another option, Package A features expanding I-25 from the E470 interchange to a total of 6 lanes and connecting commuter rail from Fort Collins to the proposed FasTracks expansion, a 2004 ballot initiative sponsored by the Regional Transportation District, which will expand the metropolitan Denver commuter system through the use of both commuter rail and highway expansion. This is project is separate from FasTracks, but would utilize the railways created by FasTracks to connect into Denver.

The commuter rail would take approximately an hour and a half to travel from Fort Collins into downtown Denver and fare costs have not yet been determined.

The second proposal, Package B, gives the option to expand I-25 from the E470 interchange through the use of a toll way and rapid bus transit system, also expanding the highway to a total of 6 lanes.

The public forum was a part of the Environmental Impact Statement process, or EIS. It is required by the National Environmental Policy Act that all major transportation projects undergo an EIS to determine a wide range alternatives and to analyze the environmental concerns of those options prior to approving the project for federal funding.

It is estimated that the EIS will be ongoing for the next several years as a result of the large area the project is affecting.

Those who attended the EIS meeting had a number of concerns to present to the planning committee.

“Safety is a real issue, you can’t play out there (in your backyard) without worrying about if you need to duck (flying debris from the highway),” said Nina Rogers, a Northglenn resident who lives alongside the highway.

Other concerns mentioned included changes in sound created by the highway and if the expansion would go into the resident’s land.

“We are kinda in limbo, we don’t know what to do with our property,” said Nancy Falk, a Northglenn resident who lives alongside I-25.

A second meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Southwest Weld County Complex in Longmont to continue discussion of the proposals.

After the EIS is finalized and approved, funding sources for the project will need to be found. Estimated to cost between $1.66 billion and $1.9 billion, funding may be raised through a ballot issue, a separate agency (such as the RTD) or may be brought forth by the county’s included.

Public input is requested through the project’s Web site: http://www.dot.state.co.us/northI25eis or by attending Wednesday night’s meeting.

Staff writer Anne Farrell can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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