I-25 passing lane on Berthoud Hill to be finished by spring 2017

By John Gardner
The Surveyor

Work began on the Interstate 25 climbing lane project on “Berthoud Hill,” the section of the interstate from mile marker 245.8 to 249.8, the week of May 16.

The main aspect of the project is to add a third lane to the southbound lanes of I-25 at the Berthoud exit to give trucks and oversized vehicles a climbing lane in order to alleviate congestion and make the section safer.

According to CDOT, in the past five years there’s been over 300 accidents on this stretch of road, including 181 rear-end crashes and 35 sideswipes.

The climbing lane will provide relief to motorists and improve overall traffic operations by reducing delays caused by inadequate passing opportunities and allow for two lanes of free-flowing traffic, stated a Colorado Department of Transportation release.

The $10.3 million project is expected to be completed by spring 2017. Work is being done by SEMA Construction of Centennial. Additional work items include a mill and overlay of all lanes in both directions; widening the bridge at Valley Road in addition to excavation; and embankment and drainage improvements along the corridor.

“If anybody’s driven this road…there’s always some slow-downs. With trucks in the climbing lane it’s going to help mitigate that and give people a more reliable trip in this corridor,” said Johnny Olson, Colorado Department of Transportation Region 4 director.

Olson has been the northern Colorado CDOT director since 2011, and I-25 improvements have been a main focus.

“When I became the director for northern Colorado, I-25 was my number-one priority,” he said. “So we started looking at things to improve…looking at operational improvements so we could just spend some of that money a little bit at a time. But then working with the Northern Front Range MPO, we started talking about bigger things.”

Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly said the project is an example of communities coming together for the greater good of the region – especially regarding transportation.

The stretch of interstate is a CDOT roadway in Weld County, but funds for the project were contributed from Northern Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization members including Larimer County, Weld County, Fort Collins, Greeley and Berthoud, among others. Both Weld and Larimer County communities came together and rallied to supply funds to this project, according to Donnelly.

“I think what you see here is a collaborative relationship that I don’t think we’ve really ever seen in northern Colorado before, and I think it’s paid big dividends, and I think you’re going to start seeing that this is just the first domino in what’s going to be a tremendous onset of projects on I-25 that are going to result in an expansion of a third lane in northern Colorado,” Donnelly said.

Berthoud committed $250,000 to the project and is considering an additional $250,000 pending a board discussion and approval. But the project’s benefits are a boon for Berthoud according to town administrator, Mike Hart.

“For Berthoud, it can’t come at a better time,” Hart said.

The added climbing lane will help with traffic exiting and re-entering I-25 from highway 56 with the highly anticipated Love’s Travel Stops facility expected to begin construction soon at the southwest portion of the interchange. The project could also help the development of the neighboring sections of lands as well.

“You’ve got the trucks coming on and back off again, so it’ll be wonderful to have a climb lane for them to get them back up to speed,” Hart said.

Berthoud has also benefited recently from other CDOT projects, including repaving of Highway 56 from I-25 to Berthoud. And there are also plans for a $7 million project on County Road 17 in north Berthoud near the Heron Pointe subdivision, to which Berthoud contributed about $600,000, according to Hart.

“[Berthoud] is the beneficiary of a lot of improvements lately,” Hart said.

He illustrated that Berthoud residents commuting out of town, or others who commute into town for work, use I-25, CR 17 or Highway 287 and contribute to the impacts on the roads. As such, it’s important for the Town of Berthoud to be included in these projects as a member of the NFRMPO.

“Everything is regional,” Hart said. “If we’re not part of the solution the problem is never going to get fixed.”

 

  • Travel impacts: Travelers can expect shoulder closures during the project. Construction work hours will be between 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Additional night work will be required to complete the mill and overlay portion of the project that is scheduled to begin on Sunday, May 22. Night hours will be between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. with single lane closures expected for both northbound and southbound lanes.

     

  • Speed limits will be reduced to 65 miles per hour through the work zone; however, no vehicle width restrictions are predicted during this project.

     

  • For more information: To receive updates or information about road conditions, construction information or to voice a question or concern, send an email to i25climbinglane@gmail.com or call the project hotline at (970) 373-1584. You can also view other projects in northern Colorado at www.cdot.gov/projects/northeastern-projects.