The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) in the US has given the green light to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s $2.18bn plan to significantly improve travel around the state.

The administration has signed the record of decision (ROD) following years of planning and collecting public opinion; it allows Colorado to build new general-purpose lanes along Interstate 25 and a commuter rail service through the Fort Collins-Loveland area.

The EIS analysed potential transportation improvements along the corridor between Fort Collins/Wellington and US 85 and US 287. The move allows the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to seek federal funding and begin planning projects to implement the improvements.

The North I-25 Widening Project consists of two areas, and the first phase will take place from SH 14 to SH 392 and the second from SH 56 to SH 66.

The first phase mostly includes the widening I-25 between SH 14 and SH 392, to add continuous acceleration/deceleration lanes that will become part of the eight-lane road in the future. This phase is estimated to cost $670m and is scheduled to be complete by 2035 based on current funding.

The package involves adding one buffer-separated tolled express lanes (TEL) in each direction on I-25 between SH 56 and SH 66, and between 120th Avenue and US 36, connecting to the existing I-25 Express Lane facility to downtown Denver. The phase will also see the upgrade of six interchanges along I-25, including SH 14, Prospect Road, US 34, SH 56, WCR 34 and SH 7. In addition, right-of-way for future commuter rail implementation will be purchased in phase one using state funds. Currently, design is underway on the I-25 reconstruction project from SH 56 to SH 66 and from SH 14 to SH 392 and the timeline for construction has yet to be decided.

Funding for additional phases will be determined through the statewide planning process, which will be carried out by CDOT with the help of the Transportation Planning Regions and Metropolitan Planning Organizations.