Strap in, Interstate 25 drivers, because 2020 will see a rebuilding of the busiest interchange of the North I-25 Express Lanes Project.
Last year, the focus of the $600 million project to widen the interstate between Berthoud and Fort Collins was the Colorado Highway 402 interchange, which opened in October.
This spring, crews will start work on the U.S. 34 interchange, which sees 54,000 vehicles daily on average daily.
Here’s a look at what is scheduled to take place in 2020 concerning the entire project:
U.S. Highway 34
The city of Loveland will start work in January on widening the highway between Denver Avenue and Boyd Lake Avenue in both directions and between Boyd Lake Avenue and Rocky Mountain Avenue on the westbound side, according to a city news release. That will include the addition of a third travel lane in each direction, turn lane additions and extensions, center median improvements, improved bike lanes and/or additional sidewalks. Construction will commence in the near future.
That work is scheduled to be completed by fall.
The city expects to complete the eastbound section from Boyd Lake Avenue to Rocky Mountain Avenue in 2021.
In March or April, CDOT crews will start widening U.S. 34 from Rocky Mountain Avenue west of the interchange to Centerra Parkway east of the interchange, according to Corey Stewart, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s I-25 project director.
That will include adding a thru-lane in each direction to increase the highway to three thru-lanes in each direction. That stretch will align with the new six lanes, three in each direction, the city of Loveland is building.
Work will start on the north side of the interchange first, then move to the south side. Like the Prospect Bridge in Fort Collins currently under construction, crews will build one side of the bridge while traffic continues on the existing bridge, then move traffic to the new bridge while construction continues on the other side of the bridge.
The existing pier in the middle median will be removed, and the new bridge will be lengthened to allow for a wider I-25 and its continued realignment south toward Colorado 402.
The interchange will be built to allow for three lanes in each direction but does not incorporate future multilevel interchange plans.
In 2020-21, between U.S. 34 and Colorado 402, crews will rebuild bridges including for Larimer County Road 20E, the Big Thompson River and Great Western Railroad to allow for the additional third express or toll lane as part of the overall project.
Stewart said the U.S. 34 interchange timetable was moved up because of available funding and because much of the design work and right-of-way work was already completed.
The U.S. 34 work has a tentative completion date of the end of 2021.
In 2020, crews will continue utilities work around the interchange as well as building the new on- and off-ramps. Also, because of the expanded length of the new ramps, the Port of Entry will be moved about a half-mile south to help traffic flow.
This will likely push construction on this section into 2021.
Poudre River Trail
Stewart said some of the initial work might still take place in late 2020 but expects the bulk of it, including the trail extension, to take place in 2021.
He said a change in the scope of the I-25 design as well as complexities of building in a floodplain have changed the schedule for this stretch.
Crews are building up the sides of the bridge just north of Centerra and U.S. 34 to accommodate the first-of-its-kind bus stop feature in Colorado. The project will place a protected bus slip between the northbound and southbound lanes as well as add a parking lot, sidewalks, access stairs and ramps to the slip for Bustang riders.
Works is being coordinated with Centerra and Loveland for the completion of the parkway under I-25, which is expected to be completed in 2021.
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