Berthoud Focus of Transportation ChangesBy Shari Phiel
When most people talk about Berthoud’s future development, they often mean new housing developments, additional employers, new businesses and others all aimed at improving Berthoud’s economic outlook. But all those new homes, employees and customers mean more cars on the road.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has been looking at solutions for the increased traffic along the northern Front Range travel corridor. The Draft Environment Impact Statement is current open to public review until Dec. 30. According to DEIS, “A multi-modal approach, including transit and highway options, is important in providing travel choices in the future and for helping meet transportation demand in northern Colorado.”
Currently under consideration are two transportation packages, each utilizing a combination of roadway improvements and mass transit services such as commuter rail and/or bus services.
Package A, which has drawn the most public support including the Town of Berthoud and the Berthoud Chamber of Commerce, includes one new lane on Interstate 25 in each direction, a commuter rail line connecting into FasTracks and commuter bus service along U.S. Highway 85 between Denver and Greeley.
In comparison, Package B would add express toll lanes on I-25 running from Thornton to north of Fort Collins. This package would also add rapid transit bus service on I-25 along with feeder bus services to outlying areas.
Implementation of Package A would also bring a commuter rail station to Berthoud. “The proposed commuter rail route follows the existing BNSF alignment which generally parallels the US 287 alignment from Fort Collins to Longmont,” states the DEIS. This also means new rail stations would be located along the existing rail corridor. The current proposal calls for a new rail station to be placed along the railroad tracks just north of State Highway 56 and a new park-and-ride will be located on the northwest corner of Hwy. 56 and Second Street.
Costs for the two options are fairly similar with Package A coming in around $2.4 billion and the total cost of Package B coming in around $2 billion, although more services would be delivered in Package A.
But the proposed new rail system isn’t the only change under consideration for Hwy. 56. The Northern Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization (NFRMPO) and CDOT held an open house on Dec. 8 at the Berthoud Community Center to review a proposed Access Control Plan for the Hwy. 56 travel corridor between Berthoud and Johnstown.
“The plan should achieve the optimum balance between state and local transportation planning objectives, and preserve and support the current and future functional integrity of the highway,” says the NFRMPO Web site.
Approximately 40 concerned residents attended the open house, most with questions about how the ACP will affect current placement of driveway or other access roadways, and possible land use changes.
The NFRMPO and CDOT will spend the next few months working on the final control plan which will show “where accesses are planned for relocation, for closure sometime in the future, for consolidation with other accesses, and any restrictions of turning or through movements.” Intergovernmental agrees will also be adopted prior to finalization.
For more information on the proposed commuter bus and rail systems or to submit your comments, go online to www.dot.state.co.us/northi25eis/meetings.cfm.
For more information about the Access Control Plan, contact Stan Elmquist of the NFRMPO at (970) 415-2309 or visit their Web site at www.nfrmpo.org/Projects/SH56AccessControlPlan.aspx.
<p>Shape of Things to Come? An artist’s rendition of a Berthoud commuter rail station, in the heart of downtown. Fore more, read Ralph Trenary’s column this week in the Voices and Thought section.</p>