Highway 71 Truck Diversion Study

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October 6, 2017 – The Colorado Department of Transportation has initiated the State Highway 71 Truck Freight Diversion Feasibility Study. Highway 71 between Limon and the Colorado/Nebraska state line including Brush was designated by Congress as a portion of the Heartland Expressway. This Heartland Expressway segment is a portion of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor that exists across nine-states between Mexico and Canada. State Highway 71 is the only segment of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor in Colorado that remains unimproved.

The study’s purpose and objectives are (1) Analyze freight movement and impact of SH 71 improvements on truck traffic; (2) Identify the types and cost of improvements to SH 71 that will draw additional truck traffic; (3) Determine the potential economic benefit to the trucking industry and local economies; and (4) Develop funding options and implementation scenarios.

The study kicked off with a Stakeholder’s Meeting held on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 in Brush, CO. Public participants from along the corridor included Dave Stone, Town of Limon; Joe Kiely, Ports-to-Plains Alliance; Travis Taylor, Lincoln County Extension; Kipp Parker, Veris Environmental; Cathy Shull, Pro 15; Monty Torrez, City of Brush; Melody Christensen, Brush Chamber of Commerce; and Jim Zwetzig, Morgan County. The public participants were joined by many from the Colorado Department of Transportation and WSP, the consulting company who will carry out the study.

The project schedule projects the final report to be complete in April 2018. Major parts of the study include modeling to create a long-term analysis of potential truck diversions between SH 71 and Interstate 25 and applying that modeling to six scenarios of improvement packages for SH 71. The implementation plan will develop rating criteria for potential improvements, cost estimates for the top ten rated improvement packages, and prepare funding options and scenarios. Numerous opportunities for improvements will be explored including additional lanes, passing lanes, climbing lanes and safety as well as roadway improvement including shoulders, geometry and sight distance.

Cathy Shull, Executive Director, Pro 15 said: “After 20 plus years of working on this corridor, we are looking forward to this next step and the potential to help with Front Range transportation as well as the anticipated economic benefit for our region.”

“An improved understanding of truck movements and the level of opportunity that an existing highway in eastern Colorado might have on reducing congestion of Interstate 25 has long been a goal of the Ports-to-Plains Alliance,” said Joe Kiely, Vice President of Operations. “This study should go a long way in determining future highway investments in eastern Colorado.”

Ports-to-Plains is a grassroots alliance of over 275 communities and businesses, including alliance partners Heartland Expressway, Theodore Roosevelt Expressway and Eastern Alberta Trade Corridor Coalition, whose mission is to advocate for a robust international transportation infrastructure to promote economic security and prosperity throughout North America’s energy and agricultural heartland including Mexico to Canada. Additional information on the Ports-to-Plains Alliance is available at http://www.portstoplains.com/.

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