CASTLE ROCK, Colo. -- Drivers who frequently get stuck in traffic on U.S. 85 in northern Douglas County can take heart.
The county's proposed 2018 budget includes $130 million for transportation improvements.
Some of that money is funding that was appropriated in previous years, but not yet spent.
A sizeable portion of it is earmarked for the Highway 85 widening project between Highlands Ranch Parkway and County Line Road.
"We have bottlenecks in those areas, which then become… a safety issue," said Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge.
He said the plan is to widen the highway to six lanes, from the current four.
“I think that’s great,” said Lauren Kerchner. “I travel on that road every day, going back and forth to work from Highlands Ranch to Castle Rock and there is lots of congestion.”
Kerchner’s friend, Linda Gornbein, described the congestion as “horrendous.”
“There are too many cars,” she said, recalling a more tranquil time, when there were far fewer cars and fewer people in the county.
Partridge said Douglas County is in good financial shape.
He said an independent survey of voters shows that satisfaction with the County remains strong, but concern about congestion has intensified.
The Commissioner told Denver7 that when asked if they would prefer to receive property tax relief, like the 2016 tax credit of $16 per household again this year, a 59% majority said they are willing to give up the property tax credit and direct the total combined revenue to other county needs.
There was a follow up question about what should be done with the money.
“Hands down, it was put it to transportation,” Partridge said, “so we heard, we listened and we acted.”
Partridge said the widening project on Highway 85 will cost $62.2 million.
“It’ll be paid for with cash,” he said. “We have a dedicated tax for roads and bridges.”
Partridge added that the County will also “leverage” funds from other partners.
The Federal Highway Administration will provide $15 million, he said. CDOT will give $6.5 million and developers will chip in about $2.3 million.
The proposed budget also includes $400,000 for design and acquisition of right-of-way along a stretch of Highway 85 between Sedalia and Daniel’s Park Road.
That money would also fund minor intersection improvements, including a traffic signal at the intersection.
The proposed budget also earmarks $4.9 million dollars to relocate the frontage road on the west side of I-25 between Castle Rock and Tomah Road, to other (west) side of the railroad tracks.
Partridge said relocating the frontage road will eliminate the need to keep and maintain existing railroad crossings.
“It’s a safety issue,” he said.
The preliminary budget will be presented in detail during Board work sessions prior to adoption on December 12.
For more information on the overall budget, click on this link: http://www.douglas.co.us/documents/2018-preliminary-budget-book.pdf