Growth along Interstate 25 in Colorado expands the freeway to ten plans plus two auxiliary lanes through Greenwood Springs. Photo taken 08/11/16.
Interstate 25 follows the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains joining the capital cities of Santa Fe, Denver and Cheyenne. I-25 also serves Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city and Pueblo and Colorado Springs in central Colorado. Suburban growth along the corridor may someday join the Denver and Colorado Springs metropolitan areas. HO/T lanes (North I-25 Express Lanes) accompany the freeway from 20th Street at Downtown Denver to Adams County, north of I-270 and south of Thornton.
Interstate 25 is part of High Priority Corridor 27: Camino Real for its entire length.
Interstate 25 replaced all of U.S. 85 from Las Cruces, New Mexico, north to Denver, Colorado. The freeway also replaced U.S. 87 from Raton, New Mexico, northward to its terminus in Buffalo, Wyoming with the exception of a parallel stretch between Glenrock and Casper. U.S. 85 parallels the freeway again in the Cheyenne vicinity. These U.S. routes are generally not co-signed in New Mexico or Colorado, but U.S. 85 and U.S. 87 are well-signed in Wyoming.
Other overlaps with U.S. routes in New Mexico include U.S. 60 north from Socorro, U.S. 285 near Santa Fe, U.S. 84 from Santa Fe east to Las Vegas and U.S. 64 at Raton. Within the Centennial state, U.S. 160 accompanies I-25 north from Trinidad to Walsenburg and U.S. 24 overlays I-25 at Colorado Springs. Within Wyoming, U.S. 26 runs in tandem with I-25 west from Dwyer to Glenrock while U.S. 20 ties in from Orin to Glenrock.
Interstate 25 through New Mexico replaced or directly overlaid all of U.S. 85 from Las Cruces north to the Colorado state line north of Raton. The first section to open ran from Socorro to Belen. Overall upgrades to U.S. 85 for I-25 were completed through the state in 1980.1
The Big I
The Big I Interchange is the crossroads where I-25 and I-40 meet northeast of Downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. The original exchange between the two freeways was known as “The Crossroads of the Southwest.”2 Opened to traffic in 1966,3 the directional interchange with left side ramps was constructed on the premise of moving military personal and other long distance traffic through the Albuquerque metropolitan area. Daily commuter traffic interests were not factored into the original interchange design.2 As as a result, the previous interchange was designed to handle 40,000 vehicles per day (vpd), but increasing traffic congestion and weaving traffic patterns eventually plagued the exchange, which served 300,000 vpd by 2000.3
The “Big I” construction built a five-level systems interchange connecting I-25 with I-40. The three phase reconstructed sections of I-40 and I-25 within 1.5 miles of the Big I. This included straightening out the S-curve along I-25 that previously passed under Candelaria Road. High speed flyovers replaced left side ramps and both freeways were expanded by one lane per direction. Additionally the adjacent frontage road system was completed and expanded to improve traffic flow through the Big I area along I-40 and the nearby Santa Barbara-Martineztown neighborhood.4 Ultimately costing $293 million,5 work on the Big I interchange kicked off on June 30, 2000 and concluded on May 25, 2002.3 The construction contract was valued at $222 million, while the design, construction engineering, and property acquisition made up the bulk of the added costs.5
Colorado Springs Metropolitan Interstate Expansion: COSMIX
Interstate 25 was also improved through the Colorado Springs area. As of March 2006, the Holland Park Noise Barrier and bridges over Ellston Street were completed. Projects continued to include widening and modernization of the freeway at the Bijou Interchange/Colorado Avenue, from Fillmore Street to Garden of the Gods, the section near North Nevada Avenue (Business Loop I-25) and Rockrimmon, and from Woodmen to North Academy. Completion of Colorado Springs Metropolitan Interstate Expansion (COSMIX) occurred by December 2007.
The largest multi-modal transportation project in Colorado history, T-Rex, started in September 2001. With origins dating back to 1944, the predecessor of Interstate 25 was the Platte Valley Drive Road. The $33 million project broke ground on November 16, 1948 and encompassed 11.2 miles. The road became known as the Valley Highway. Between Evans Avenue and 52nd Avenue, the freeway opened on November 23, 1958. Traffic counts topped at 33,000 vpd. By 1964, construction commenced for Interstate 225 with a design capacity of 50,000 vpd. This freeway opened fully between Interstate 70 and Interstate 25 on July 21, 1976. Both facilities were well over capacity with the Valley Highway at 230,000 vpd and Interstate 225 at 120,000 vpd in 1998. Traffic volumes were consistent in both directions of travel. This was based upon the fact that Denver has two major employment hubs: the Central Business District to the north and the Southeast Business District to the south. These factors set the tone for the T-REX construction project.
T-REX stands for Transportation Expansion Project and involves the Interstate 25/225 corridors. In 1992 studies began on how to handle the burgeoning transportation woes the Valley Highway entailed. The problem resulted in the partnership of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Regional Transportation District (RTD), which is responsible for the Denver light rail system. The two agencies commissioned the Southeast Corridor Major Investment Study (MIS) to handle the growing dilemma. By 1995 several options were in consideration. They included the construction of new freeway lanes, the double-decking of existing freeway lanes, and construction of heavy rail, construction of monorail, and various other mass transit related options. By 1997 the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) adopted the MIS recommendations. Those included 19.7 miles of new double-track light rail, 13 new light-rail stations, expansion of travel lanes to coincide with interchange improvements and bridge replacement projects, and HOV lanes among other concepts. Environmental Impact Studies, commenced in 1998, were completed in 18 months. Funding issues were addressed in 1999 and a Record of Decision signed in March 2000.6