El Paso County will receive the highly-competitive Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant for the Gap widening project, in which the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to widen Interstate 25 with an express lane in each direction.
The 18-mile stretch of I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument, which is in northern El Paso County, is often called the Gap. It has long created traffic delays and public safety issues where the roadway shrinks to two lanes in each direction, creating a bottleneck.
CDOT in April confirmed the department plans to widen the highway by adding one toll lane in each direction. In total, the project is set to cost $350 million. The bulk of the funding will come from CDOT and local partners, but a $65 million chunk of the Gap's funding strategy remained uncertain until June 5 as officials waited to learn if the project would be awarded the federal money.
Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet jointly announced both the $65 million INFRA grant for the Gap and an additional $25 million in INFRA funds to improve Interstate 70 in Clear Creek County.
“I'm thrilled to announce Colorado will receive $90 million dollars for critical infrastructure projects in our state,” Gardner said in a news release. “Coloradans who commute on South I-25 every day or utilize I-70 to travel to the Western Slope and experience the beautiful public lands Colorado has to offer are all too familiar with the unbearable traffic on Colorado highways. These projects will help alleviate congestion on South I-25 and I-70 and help improve the lives of every Coloradan who travels our roads.”
Bennet, in the same news release, said the state's infrastructure requires “significant investment” to keep pace with growth in population and tourism.
“These grants will help make improvements to the critical links Coloradans use every day to reach the high country and southern Colorado," he said.
Congressman Ken Buck — whose 4th Congressional District includes much of Douglas County — also praised the news.
“Our transportation infrastructure must meet the needs of Colorado’s growing population and bustling economy,” Buck said in a statement. “I’ve worked closely, alongside my colleagues in the delegation, to emphasize to the Department of Transportation the importance of the I-25 Gap project for the people who rely on this section of the interstate as a key thoroughfare. These grant dollars will make Colorado better connected, benefiting our economy and our communities.”
All three men penned letters encouraging the grant be awarded to the Gap project.
Mike Lewis, the executive director of CDOT, said in a news release the senators and the whole congressional delegation "stepped up to ensure that Colorado received awards for two critical transportation projects." The projects will help save lives and improve travel, he said.
"The administration clearly sees the commitment of Coloradans to their transportation system," he said, "and the innovative methods by which we are delivering critical projects."
Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge reacted to the news by commending El Paso County for "being the lead" on applying for the grant and said having so many state and local partners was key in the application's success, noting less than 20 percent of the Gap project's funding will be INFRA dollars.
"We always thought we had a competitive project," he said. "This just proves that it was an excellent project."
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