The Town of Castle Rock recently amped up efforts to get an interchange with Interstate 25 at Crystal Valley Parkway planned, funded and under construction. Town staff have said the need is paramount …
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The Town of Castle Rock recently amped up efforts to get an interchange with Interstate 25 at Crystal Valley Parkway planned, funded and under construction. Town staff have said the need is paramount — that without the interchange the town's southern residents and businesses will be underserved and traffic congestion at other interchanges will worsen. Here's more information from Public Works Director Bob Goebel on what the project entails and why staff say it's needed.
Decades in the planning
The town formed a transportation master plan in the 1980s (it's been updated more than once) around the time large areas like The Meadows, Dawson Ridge and Crystal Valley Ranch were annexed into Castle Rock, Goebel said.
The plan includes goals for all major roadways and identifies the need for a future interstate interchange near the Crystal Valley Ranch neighborhood, which is located on the southern edge of Castle Rock east of I-25. To the west of I-25 was Dawson Ridge.
“At the time, both sides of the interstate,” Goebel said, “were kind of on the same track.”
Development was planned in Dawson Ridge but fell through, and area remains largely untouched. Crystal Valley Ranch, however, was developed and is still inching toward full buildout. With another pending community, The Lanterns, also to the southeast of I-25. staff are preparing for thousands more residential units in Castle Rock's southeast quadrant.
On the horizon
Castle Rock is today one of the seven fastest-growing cities in America, according to 2017 U.S. Census data. As the community has expanded, Plum Creek Parkway's interchange with I-25, the nearest interchange to the Crystal Valley Ranch neighborhood, grew overburdened with traffic and congestion, although a town spokeswoman said it is not overcapacity.
“We have some concern that on a 10-year horizon, that interchange is going to become increasingly more congested,” Goebel said. “To get ahead of that and to be forward thinking, we're trying to find financial planning and funding that could help us get this interchange (Crystal Valley) completed.”
In past years, the town expected private development to the east and west of I-25 would generate significant funding for the Crystal Valley Interchange project — nearly 80 percent of the project cost, Goebel said. But Dawson Ridge didn't pan out and the cost of the interchange is projected to be $94 million, if completed in the next five or so years. That number includes the cost of relocating portions of the West Frontage Road. The interchange alone is projected to cost $70 million. The longer the project takes to get underway, the higher the cost will be.
Whether the interchange happens with or without development on the west side of I-25 remains to be seen. Town Manager Dave Corliss said in early October town policy has been that development would fund two-thirds of the project, but added, "I think that's going to be a challenge."
For now, the town has recognized a coalition of various stakeholders to seek out additional public and private dollars.
An 'alternative choice'
The Crystal Valley Interchange would be a similar solution to one Castle Rock employed when traffic and congestion plagued the Meadows Parkway on the opposite end of town, Goebel said.
The $85 million North Meadows Extension project resulted in the Castle Rock Parkway/North Meadows Drive, opening a second entrance to The Meadows. A three-year, public/private project, the roadway eased congestion on the Meadows Parkway and shortened commute times to the north part of town.
The timing of the Crystal Valley Interchange project will depend on how quickly the town can gather funding, Goebel said, and the scope of the project.
They haven't determined if the project will be done in one phase but estimate it will take about three years to get shovel-ready and two years to complete construction. The town also needs to acquire right-of-way land before construction could begin. That is the most immediate focus, Goebel said, so the town can make further progress toward a new interchange.
“It provides an alternative choice,” Goebel said, “for folks to get to and from the interstate.”
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