Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I-25 expansion project shouldn't require tolls, county commissioners say

Posted By on Tue, Dec 19, 2017 at 5:04 PM

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El Paso County commissioners don't like the idea of adding lanes to the Interstate 25 gap between Monument and Castle Rock only to have them be toll lanes for which motorists have to pay.

Even though the toll option was discussed prior to the Nov. 7 election during which voters approved two local ballot measures that will supply mechanisms for adding money for the widening, commissioners recently have protested that idea.

On Dec. 14, the commission is expected to adopt a resolution saying they oppose the use of tolls. Here's the news release issued by the county late Dec. 19, followed by the resolution due for consideration:
The Board of El Paso County Commissioners wants to send a clear message to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Through a Board Resolution, which was introduced for discussion today and is expected to receive final approval on Thursday, the Commissioners reminded CDOT that the 17-mile, two-lane section of I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock was a factor in thousands of vehicle crashes resulting in nearly 1300 injuries and 13 fatalities from 2011 through 2015.

The Resolution notes that CDOT is in the process of assessing the impacts of three possible options for the 17-mile I-25 Gap, “including the impact of doing nothing, the impact of adding a third lane to match the current configuration before and after the gap and the impact of adding a toll managed express lane (in each direction).” It further notes that under federal highway funding requirements CDOT is required to consider the impact of managed express lanes in connection with any major expansion project” and that “acknowledgement of this requirement was included in the documentation prepared by El Paso County staff for the application to receive a federal infrastructure grant to help fund the I-25 expansion.”

But the County Resolution makes it clear that recognition of the required assessment of a managed toll option in the federal grant application “does not in any way constitute an endorsement of the third lane managed toll configuration for this project.” It calls on CDOT and its representatives, “to recognize that configuring the planned third lane expansion of I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock is inconsistent with the configuration at both ends of the gap and would constitute a form of double taxation for El Paso County residents who have already agreed to help pay for the project.”

The Resolution notes that, “El Paso County has willingly taken a leadership role in regional efforts to assure that this serious public safety problem is solved as quickly as possible” and affirms the County’s, “willingness to work with CDOT and others throughout the region and the state to complete this important project.”

Each of the Commissioners expressed support for the Resolution after it was presented during Tuesday’s meeting. Formal approval is expected during the Commissioners’ regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Dec. 21.

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