North Meadows extension moving forward … and under

Castle Rock: underpass at I-25 trumps overpass

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Groundbreaking of the North Meadows extension connecting North Meadows Boulevard to Interstate 25 could become a reality, more than six years after financing was approved by Castle Rock voters.

Town council on Oct. 25 approved a proposal to move forward with the public bidding process to build a scaled-back version of the North Meadows extension, revised to accommodate the requests of Jack Vickers, developer of Castle Pines Village.

In the wake of plans to build an overpass at the I-25 interchange of the proposed North Meadows extension, Vickers’ corporation, Dev Vic, and his partner Michael Sanders, owner of Pine Crest Development, successfully asked Castle Rock planners to consider an underpass, said Bob Goebel, Castle Rock director of public works. Vickers and his team committed to re-grade Dev Vic property to the site and the town will complete grading of the underpass at the site of the interchange, Goebel said.

The resulting interchange will create an opportunity for commercial development in the area, rather than the multi-family zoning now in place, he said. The potential for economic development, coupled with additional projected cost savings, moved town council to approve Goebel’s request to begin the bidding process.

“I would think the underpass appears to make more sense financially,” said Paul Donahue, Castle Rock mayor. “It might cost more now in the short run but, looking at benefits on the economic development side, it makes sense to move in that direction.”

The change to an underpass exchange adds from $2 million to $4.5 million to the overall project, depending on the grading requirements at the exchange, Goebel said. The added cost is offset by other changes to the project, which include scaling back from a four-lane to a two-lane road, foregoing southerly ramps at Colorado 85 until traffic flow demands construction and changing the road alignment to capitalize on existing topography, Goebel said. Upgrades to the road can be completed at a later time, when traffic patterns reach a breakpoint level, he said.

The overall savings from the original “ultimate” build-out of the Meadows Extension to the present “backbone” build-out is about $20 million, Goebel said. The savings were pinpointed by a value engineering team created to restructure the project to its lowest cost point.

“We created a team to restructure the project to redesign (it) to make it more affordable,” Goebel said. “They were given direction to cut costs on this project and they came up with a list of all the ways to cut costs.”

The North Meadows extension has been on the drawing board since 2005, when Castle Rock voters approved a $30 million bond issuance for road improvements. The town tapped into $10 million of the bond money to finance the southwest and southeast arterial projects, leaving $20 million for the North Meadows extension.

The North Meadows extension project will extend North Meadows Boulevard past Colorado 85 to I-25. The interchange at I-25 is projected to be slightly less than one mile north of Founders Parkway.

Part of the project’s $50 million price tag will be met by a $4.6 million contribution from the Colorado Department of Transportation and $5 million from Douglas County, according to a cost analysis submitted to Castle Rock town council. According to the subdivision’s development plan, the developer of The Meadows, Castle Rock Development Co., is committed to making a $10 million contribution when traffic patterns from The Meadows reach a subscribed level. The balance will come from the town’s transportation capital fund.

Goebel’s staff has applied for a federal grant through the same pool of money that is helping to pay for the flyover at Santa Fe and C-470, but has little hope the grant will be approved. The town’s application for $13 million from the federal TIGER funds – Transportation Improvements Generating Economic Recovery – has made it to the third tier of consideration.

“We thought it was worthwhile to put in an application,” Goebel said. “You can’t get it unless you ask.”

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