By Rebecca Marshall
On Thursday, February 8th, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) held a meeting at the Monument Library to discuss their project to widen I-25 from Monument to Castle Rock. I arrived 2 minutes late to find the meeting well under way. In fact, another attendee advised me that the meeting had started 15 minutes before the scheduled time. CDOT had also published the wrong address for the location, resulting in many people arriving late. There was nowhere to sit or stand inside the room, but I was able to set up our video camera just inside the meeting room. Close to 20 of us stood outside the room, and there were over 40 other attendees packed inside.
If you’d like to watch the entire meeting, click here.
There was significant frustration among the group standing outside the room about being asked to trust CDOT with millions of the taxpayer’s dollars, when they couldn’t properly communicate a meeting location and time.
The meeting lasted over an hour and a half. Many the attendees are daily commuters on the Monument to Castle Rock “gap” that CDOT is looking to expand. Most made at least one comment and were upset over the plans that CDOT has in store for their roads. They asked great questions, and didn’t back down when they felt CDOT representatives were not being transparent.
CDOT’s plan is to add one additional lane, which would be a tolled express lane, and it would also widen the shoulder. This plan would double the paved surface area from the current I-25 width between Monument and Castle Rock. The wide shoulder would be used for stranded travelers and for emergency vehicles.
The CDOT presenters (Tamara Rollison, Regional & Strategic Communications Program Leader and John Hall, Project Director, Pre-Construction I-25 South Gap), said high occupancy vehicles (3+ occupants) “may” be allowed free of charge in the express lane and it was “likely” that the express lane would start north of County Line Road and end in Castle Rock. They said the fee to use the express lane would “likely” be in the $3 – $6 range.
They reassured the crowd that CDOT would still own the road, and that a private company would not make money off the road. That wasn’t a comforting fact to the crowd, that didn’t want CDOT to make money from the tolls —forever— given all the taxes that are supposed to be allocated to roads.
Because there was no microphone, it was difficult to hear the speakers, but here are some of the comments from the citizens indicated a significant pushback toward CDOT’s plan:
- We supported the project and voted for it. This was a “bait and switch”.
- Why were we misled? The Gazette and others were like “rah-rah” when talking about the 3rd lane.
- How did all this come about? I no longer trust my government.
- This has been terrible communication from CDOT and they haven’t convinced us. There was no compelling argument.
- It seems like all the funding goes to Denver. It’s like pulling teeth to get money for the Springs.
- Is that political? That’s the impression I’ve got.
- People will go on highway 83 to avoid construction and congestion.
- This is discrimination for those who can’t afford the tolls.
- This is shortsighted. A 4th lane will need to be added in 9 years.
- This project is calculated to cost 200% more than the Woodmen to Monument i-25 project. The math doesn’t work.
Shane Sandridge, State Representative from House District 14, shared with the citizens that he is adamantly opposed to a 3rd lane as a toll lane. He said there is money available for the project. He reported that the state is bringing in record revenues, and that he is shocked about some of the things that our state is spending money on. Sandridge said it’s blatantly clear what citizens want, and that the government needs to answer to the voters.
After the meeting, I asked Representative Sandridge who the citizens should contact to voice their opinion about CDOT’s plan. He suggested citizens contact the Governor’s office with their concerns.
Please call Governor Hickenlooper’s office at (303) 866-2471. If you would prefer to submit a written comment, please do so here.
At SpringsTaxpayers, we plan to deliver petitions to Governor Hickenlooper to make sure he is hearing from us. You can sign that petition here. In the petition, we are asking for four lanes in each direction, with no tolls, and no taxes.