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$350 million identified for I-25 expansion - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

$350 million identified for I-25 expansion

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DOUGLAS COUNTY -

It was supposed to take up to a decade before widening work could begin on I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock. Today, if all the components of the current $350 million funding package comes through, there will traffic cones and bulldozers in Douglas and El Paso Counties by the summer of 2019.

"I think everybody in the state understand that this is a critical infrastructure need," said El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller.

He leads a local effort to come up with money. Waller is asking voters to spend, rather than refund, excess taxes collected for the next two years as part of a $25 million contribution to the highway funding package.

The booming local economy has increased sales tax collections to the point that both El Paso County and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority are financially positioned to surpass their Taxpayer Bill of Rights growth limits. Ballot Question 1A would keep the estimated $7.5 million in excess County revenue for two years to commit to the highway widening. Ballot Question 5B asks voters to add the expansion to the PPRTA project list for $5 per year for the next two years.

“It's literally money that is currently there and can be used for the projects without impacting anything else," Waller said.

State lawmakers came up with a $1 billion for highways during the last session as part of the compromise Senate Bill 267 which reclassified hospital provider fees as a state enterprise. The State Transportation Board will vote on spending $250 million of that money for the expansion.

"This was all done in an effort to make sure the State didn't go over it's TABOR retention cap,” Waller explained. “That creates a billion dollars … for transportation in new spending for the State of Colorado."

The Colorado Department of Transportation is also applying for $65 million in a federal INFRA grant. The final $10 million would be contributed by Douglas County.

Spokeswoman Amy Ford explained that it’s a delicate balancing act that requires all of the funding groups to keep their commitments in order for the project to work.

As we've previously reported, CDOT has piggy-backed the mandatory federal environmental studies in an effort to speed up the time line. Ford said the department is search for additional ways to accelerate that process.

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