Loveland Reporter-Herald

County’s transporta­tion plans on move

- By Kristin Stephens

Happy spring! With the start of springtime and warmer weather, county engineers and the Larimer County Road and Bridge Department can begin work on transporta­tion and road resurfacin­g projects around the county. We are also working on regional transporta­tion planning with Larimer and Weld County communitie­s. While no one particular­ly likes a “cone zone,” it is great to have funding to complete and study some important projects.

Since being elected, I have served as the county’s representa­tive to the North Front Range Metropolit­an Planning Organizati­on, and the Upper Front Range Transporta­tion Planning Region (UFRTPR). These organizati­ons work on regional transporta­tion planning and air quality issues. Recently I was also elected as chair of the Highway 34 Coalition. The coalition recently received funding from the Colorado Department of Transporta­tion to form a transporta­tion management organizati­on on the U.S. 34 corridor which will give us the opportunit­y to explore multi-modal options on U.S. 34 including transit, and possibly bus rapid transit, like the MAX system which operates in Fort Collins. This is an exciting opportunit­y since there are currently no transit or bus options on this busy stretch of road. While the original plan includes transit between Loveland and Greeley, Estes Park will be joining the coalition so we can also explore ways to connect our mountain communitie­s.

We were also notified in September that CDOT has funding to complete the express lane on segment five, the last two-lane segment of I-25. Segment five, a seven-mile stretch, which runs from Colo. 56, south of Berthoud, to Colo. 66, north of Longmont, will be funded through CDOT’S 10-year plan and a Federal Transporta­tion Infrastruc­ture Finance and Innovation Act loan that will be paid back with revenue generated from the express lane.

Last fall, we received a Multimodal Transporta­tion and Mitigation Options Fund grant through the UFRTPR. This grant will allow us to start work on the Owl Canyon, County Road (CR) 70, shoulder widening project. Constructi­on on the phase from CR 9 to CR 5 will begin this year. Owl Canyon is a popular bike loop, and widening the shoulders will provide more safety for cyclists. We also received CDOT and federal funding to widen the shoulders of Shields Street from just north of Willox Lane to the railroad tracks just south of U.S. 287 to provide more safety on this stretch of road. There are many other county projects in the works including work on the Poudre River Trail, signalizat­ion of U.S. 34 and Glade Road, and guardrail projects on County Road 38E and County Road 73C to name a few.

As you can see, increasing safety and providing more multi-modal options are a big focus of our transporta­tion planning. Since the start of the year, there have been multiple fatal bike crashes in our community; we need to commit to a Vision Zero (https://visionzero­ plan that works toward safe mobility and zero deaths for all road users. To this end, in January we were pleased to be awarded a $240,000 Safe Streets and Roads for All Action Plan grant from the U.S. Department of Transporta­tion through the Bipartisan Infrastruc­ture Law. This grant will allow us to develop a comprehens­ive safety action plan for the county and makes up us eligible for further federal implementa­tion grants.

We are excited about the many projects that will allow our residents to travel more safely and efficientl­y throughout the county. And as always, we ask you to “slow for the cone zone” to keep our workers safe.

Kristin Stephens is a Larimer County commission­er representi­ng all of Larimer County.

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