COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Colorado Department of Transportation announces $128.5 million in road construction projects specifically targeting areas around military installations in Colorado Springs and El Paso County.
“It is one of the core functions of, particularly, the interstate system, to support our network of national defense,” said Shoshana Lew, the executive director of CDOT.
CDOT laid out four projects:
- I-25 from South Academy to Sante Fe Avenue: The 7.5-mile stretch will have shoulders widened, medians installed, two bridge replacements, six bridge rehabilitation projects and installation of “intelligent transportation system components.” Cost: $84.2 million
- South Academy Boulevard: Widening a mile from Bradley Road to South Academy from two to three lanes. Cost: $23 million
- State Highway 94: Widening for a one-mile-long passing lane five miles east of Highway 24, and “safety improvements.” Cost: $7.5 million
- Charter Oak Ranch Road: Complete reconstruction from Sante Fe Avenue to Fort Carson Gate 19, and improvements to the Sante Fe Avenue intersection. Cost: $12.6 million
“These projects I think are important for catch-up, but they’re also important for the critical access point we see in this region,” Lew said. “We know that the military installations are the critical drivers for the Pikes Peak area.”
CDOT has filed a grant request with the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (B.U.I.L.D) Grant, which is federal money used to help fulfill national objectives.
Lew said she expects they will be awarded the grant, but the projects will go forward either way.
“If we get the funding for those, I do think they’ll be finished in 10 years, probably less than that for parts,” Lew said.
There is no set start date for these projects. An estimation from a CDOT employee says the South Academy project could start in spring 2020.
“Resources are limited to get it done in a short time frame,” Norm Steen said. “Dollars are large. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The projects announced Wednesday are just a piece of the work needed. Military leaders at the various military bases expressed concerns about Highway 115, some sections of Powers Boulevard (Highway 21), and the impact 9,000 homes could have if Banning Lewis Ranch expands as far south as Highway 94.
“They’re important projects, but it’s certainly not a comprehensive list of all the needs,” Lew said.
Gov. Jared Polis and leaders from the City of Colorado Springs, major military installations, El Paso County, and other organizations also discussed the future needs of the area.
“The purpose of our meeting today was to address some of those challenges, get the decision-makers in the room, start a conversation,” Steen said. “Don’t make any decisions, but start a conversation today to work through some really challenging issues.”