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 February 1, 1998

Transportation summit offers good, bad news

GREELEY — At the eleventh annual Northern Colorado Transportation Summit held Jan. 29 at the Union Colony Civic Center, the good news was that transportation experts have determined and prioritized a list of projects that would help the region meet its transportation goals.
The bad news was that 223 projects totaling $1.25 billion were identified, and estimates of state and federal revenues available to make them happen come in at about $215 million.
The North Front Range 2020 Regional Transportation Plan detailing these projects was a hot topic at the summit, which was hosted by the Greeley/Weld Chamber of Commerce. As successor to the 2015 Regional Transportation Plan adopted in 1994, the plan calls for a 10 percent reduction in single-occupancy-vehicle trips by the year 2020 and includes 223 projects to help reach that goal.
Bob Felsburg, principal partner in the regional transportation planning firm of Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig, said the 2020 plan is a "big step forward in terms of regional planning."
Projects that received public support were adopted into the Vision Plan and categorized, and each category was assigned a suggested allocation of resources:
n Transit/HOV — 40 percent
n Rail — 10 percent
n Bike/pedestrian — 8 percent
n Mobility strategies (alternative transportation advocacy) —10 percent
nHighway — 32 percent
The Plan˜s Technical Advisory Committee has the rest of the month to deliberate on the projects. Then the 2020 Regional Transportation Plan should be ready for approval in March, Felsburg said.
Tim Baldwin of the transportation planning firm Kimberly-Horn and Associates reported on the North Front Range Transportation Alternatives Feasibility Study. Baldwin said Phase I of the study — a search for solutions to regional safety problems, traffic congestion and air-quality issues — is almost complete and the study˜s Policy and Oversight Committee has recommended a short list of proposed alternatives.
It˜s a varied list, with some pricey items. One option is to widen Interstate 25 from four lanes to six from Colorado Highway 7 to Colorado Highway 14. That would cost $500 million to $800 million. Another is to widen the interstate to accommodate an HOV/bus lane. Again, the estimated cost is $500 to $900 million. A third option is to introduce either commuter rail or light-rail service along four regional routes. Baldwin said . A number of choices ranging from trains to electrified light rail are available and carry price tags of $160 to $900 million.
A regional bus system and improvements to the existing system is another option, as is the "no-build" option against which all other options are compared. No-build calls for nothing more than improvements already budgeted and maintenance of existing facilities — a choice that would bring gridlock on U.S. Highway 287 and other feeder routes by 2020, Baldwin said.
Baldwin said the feasibility study is heading into Phase II, at which point an in-depth cost and user analysis of each option will be conducted.
Felsburg summarized the current planning project to develop a detailed, long-range Access Control Plan for the U.S. Highway 85 Corridor from Interstate 76 south of Brighton to Weld County Road 84 just north of Ault. The plan, which will show all existing and future accesses and the layout of each access, is just under way and will take 12 to 16 months to complete.
The final and perhaps most important part of this process will be intergovernmental agreements between CDOT and local jurisdictions, Felsburg said. Dick Fontaine, senior vice president of George K. Baum & Co.˜s transportation finance group, offered an unguarded analysis and critique of the politics behind E-470˜s slow journey into being. He described the public-private partnership to build the $722 million highway and told the audience that funding must be secured before construction begins on this region˜s section of the road.
Nancy Brigden, a Colorado Transportation commissioner, wrapped things up by reminding the audience that the state was looking at an $8 billion shortfall in transportation funds.
"We could lower our expectations," she suggested, "or explore more public-private partnerships for highway projects, but we have to find a way to support our great investment in our highway system."

GREELEY — At the eleventh annual Northern Colorado Transportation Summit held Jan. 29 at the Union Colony Civic Center, the good news was that transportation experts have determined and prioritized a list of projects that would help the region meet its transportation goals.
The bad news was that 223 projects totaling $1.25 billion were identified, and estimates of state and federal revenues available to make them happen come in at about $215 million.
The North Front Range 2020 Regional Transportation Plan detailing these projects was a hot topic at the summit, which was hosted by the…

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