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Leaders create coalition to fund and quicken I-25 expansion - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Leaders create coalition to fund and quicken I-25 expansion

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The I-25 widening project from Monument to Castle Rock was originally estimated to take ten years. That's been cut to a goal of five years and now a new coalition of local leaders is trying to make it happen even quicker.

This new coalition of city, county, business and economic leaders is called the 'I-25 Gap Coalition.' 

The half a billion dollar project has not been prioritized as much as local leaders hoped, and now there's a question of financing. 

"Absolutely key to economic development between two of the 40 largest cities in America and it's absolutely key to public safety," said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. 

The I-25 'gap' coalition's first meeting took place today in Castle Rock, the 'gap' is a 17 mile stretch from Castle Rock down to Monument. 

"Transportation projects don't understand jurisdictional boundaries," said El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller. 

From South Denver to Colorado Springs almost all jurisdictions, business and economic development groups have a voice in the new coalition.

"Today may be the first formal meeting, but there have been many conversations with these partners along the way," said President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Chamber Dirk Draper.

A half-billion dollar project once estimated to take ten years is now set to take five years with a hope to break ground summer of 2019, but the big question is funding. 

"I believe that local governments need to have skin in the game, need to make sure we are doing everything we can up front to make sure we are as shovel ready as we possibly can be so if those federal dollars come down we're ready to move or if state dollars come down, we're ready to move," said Waller.

Waller says 83 percent of the state budget goes to education and Medicaid. Waller wants to see transportation prioritized, Mayor Suthers agrees, but disagrees that local governments need to be involved in funding an interstate project.

"Unlike commissioner Waller I don't see a major local contribution to this," said Suthers, "I've asked the voters of Colorado Springs to make an investment in the roads, they've done it, we oughta be looking to the state to make an investment in the state highways."

Mayor Suthers says he hopes the I-25 'gap' can be done in three years.

"Jon Caldera at the Independence Institute, I don't quote him often, but I'm beginning to think a little more like him when he says, 'fix the damn roads,'" said Suthers.

The first official meeting for the 'I-25 Gap Coalition' followed the announcement in front of local leaders and media. Mayor Suthers said there will be plenty of discussion of how to get the state legislators to help with funding.

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