Reed: I-25 is expanding, but it’s not enough

Spencer Reed

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Many students will be hitting the road to see their families as Thanksgiving approaches. This will likely cause Interstate-25 to be an absolute mess, as it usually is. Northern Colorado is familiar with the straining stop and go traffic of I-25 due. Thanksgiving traffic will be horrendous, however it’s bogus knowing that the interstate could turn into a parking lot during any average rush hour.


To combat this issue, the Colorado Transportation Commission (CTC) recently approved a $200 million provisional fund that would benefit the widening of another section of Northern Colorado’s monstrous interstate. This fund is dependent on a highway grant of $95 million that would be given to the CTC by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA). If INFRA does not support the notion, then the $200 million provisional fund will unfortunately be terminated.  

The much needed proposed funding goes alongside already established grants that are aimed at widening I-25 from Fort Collins to Longmont. $303.5 million is already being spent to improve road conditions between Highway 14 near Fort Collins, and Colorado road 402. Another $32.5 million is being spent to widen bridges at the Crossroads Boulevard just east of Loveland. Moreover, $14.5 million has also been spent on the southbound hill climbing lane near Berthoud.

A great deal of this funding was received from a handful of sources. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) being one of them. Local communities and small federal grants also made notable contributions. Fort Collins is one of those communities, who’s pledged to hand over $5 million to the I-25 conundrum.

The spending may seem frivolous; however, funds are needed. Interstate-25 currently maintains a D level of traffic engineering service. In the next 10 years the interstate is expected to fall to an E level, and an F level by 2035.

To put this in perspective, levels of freeway engineering service rank from A to F. Traffic service A signifies a free flow of operation, where travelers are allowed to maneuver practically effortlessly throughout traffic. A D level of service, which is where I-25 currently stands, entails limited mobility in traffic. Drivers have been found to have reduced physical and comfort levels while driving in level D conditions. Level F conditions, which is where I-25 is headed, is exclaimed to have complete disruptions of vehicular movement.

Freeway service condition levels:

  • A – Free flowing traffic, where vehicles are unimpeded
  • B – Traffic is flowing at a reasonable rate, with only slight restrictions on driving maneuvers
  • C – A noticeable constraint in driver autonomy
  • D – Maneuvering throughout traffic is quite restrictive, and drivers tend to experience low comfort levels
  • E – Space between vehicles is severely limited, allowing little opportunity to make maneuvers
  • F – Continuous stopping of vehicular movement

Despite efforts made by CDOT and the communities most affected by I-25 traffic, the contemporary projects may not be enough in the long run. Developments such as the Highway 14 to road 402 project are only being built to temporary standards, and have been funded to build just half of a full standard highway condition. So regardless of the attention that the interstate is receiving, it will be living a shorter life if more grants aren’t provided to build better roadways.

Where to find extra grants to fund the interstate projects is still up in the air. Some have proposed a 1-cent increase in Colorado state sales tax, but the likelihood of that being adopted is grim. Other ideas have made inferences to a slight gas tax increase and a residential care registration fee. Again, these propositions are only ideas and may be lacking feasibility.

A more far-out solution to I-25’s traffic issues has been discussed in the Rocky Mountain Hyperloop. The hyperloop would allow travelers to get from Foco to Colorado Springs in a mere 20 minutes, and the project could be partially up and running as early as 2020. As if funding hasn’t been difficult enough to repair Interstate-25, tax payers might be taken back by the proposed budget for the hyperloop. Its estimated cost is hovering around $24 billion.

Regardless of how, the transit issues experienced on a daily basis on I-25 must be addressed. Colorado, especially the northern part of the state, is growing at a rapid rate. If the appropriate funding isn’t mustered up then Northern Coloradans can look forward to spending more time glancing at miles of traffic ahead of them.


Spencer Reed can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @sbreed96.