What is the New Pueblo Freeway?
In 2000, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) initiated a study of I-25 through Pueblo, Colorado. The study integrated the transportation planning process with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) process to evaluate improvements to the I-25 corridor through Pueblo. When a federal agency, such as FHWA, proposes an action, such as the improvements to I-25, it is required by NEPA to conduct an EIS if the project is likely to “significantly affect the quality of the human environment” (42 USC 4332: 40 CFR 1501).
Through this NEPA/planning process, which included input by City of Pueblo engineering and planning staff, transportation conditions along I-25 through Pueblo were described, needs were identified, and transportation problems were defined. Consistent with NEPA and the regulation of the Council on Environmental Quality regulations, an active public participation program captured community values held by the citizens of Pueblo in a Vision Statement that asks FHWA and CDOT to respect the traditions and trends of the Pueblo community as they develop solutions to roadway problems. The culmination of this planning effort is called the New Pueblo Freeway project.
The purpose of the New Pueblo Freeway project is to: 1) improve safety by addressing deteriorating roadways and bridges and unsafe road characteristics on I-25; and 2) improve local and regional mobility within and through the City to meet existing and future travel demands. The need for the project results from the highway’s age and the design practices at the time it was built, which has led to the safety and mobility problems described in detail in the EIS.
Public Hearing for the New Pueblo Freeway Draft EIS
The Colorado Department of Transportation held a public hearing on December 8, 2011 as part of the public involvement process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The purpose of the hearings was to allow the public to review the analysis presented in the Draft EIS and make official comments. Those comments will be addressed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) as the next phase. The materials from the public hearing including display boards, handouts, and project presentation will be posted on this page soon!
Formal Public Comment Period Has Closed
The Draft EIS was made available to the public for a 45-day review and comment period from November 4, 2011 to December 19, 2011. Draft EIS comments will be addressed in the Final EIS.
New Pueblo Freeway Project (2000-2002)
During the summer of 2000, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) kicked off the New Pueblo Freeway Project with the goal of addressing the deteriorating roadway and bridges along I-25 through Pueblo. This initial phase of the project included an extensive public process. This public process created an understanding of the project issues and concerns, analyzed potential solutions (alternatives), and ultimately presented a recommended alternative.
A similar involvement effort happened for the next stage of the project, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. The EIS process is examining the environmental issues of three alternatives, including the recommended alternative developed over the past two years.
The information below provides the background and overview for the phase of the New Pueblo Freeway Project from 2000 through 2002. This information is included to provide the important history, decisions, and public process that have propelled the project forward to the current EIS stage.
Project Background and Overview
The first contract to build the Pueblo Freeway, now designated as I-25, was awarded in 1949. It took 10 years for the freeway to be completed through Pueblo. Now, 50 years later there is a need to study and redesign the freeway to fit current and future demands. CDOT sponsored this study and redesign. The project is now in the environmental stage.
One of CDOT’s goals for this project was to develop a plan that respected the traditions and trends of the Pueblo community. To reach this goal CDOT conducted a process that included a community voice through leadership teams and an open community process. CDOT formed a team consisting of representatives from the city, county, and community to explore the roles I-25 currently plays in the community and what roles I-25 should play in the community’s future.
This team began with a Workshop to define the context of I-25 in the community and to capture the concerns, goals, and criteria by which solutions could be developed. Alternatives were then developed and analyzed through a series of screening efforts. Starting with a brainstorming exercise and carefully analyzing, screening, and refining alternatives to create the ideal recommendations for the I-25 corridor through Pueblo.
This effort culminated into a recommended action plan now continuing foward through environmental clearances and design once funding sources are identified. This was and will continue to be accomplished through a decision-making process that follows these 5 steps: Project Planning and Endorsement; Concerns and Criteria Development; Alternatives Development; Alternatives Analysis; Recommendation.
Communication, Leadership, and Support
The primary role of Stakeholders has been to provide vital local information, goals, and values. Stakeholders have been meeting in various formats. Each of these offer an opportunity for stakeholders to interact with project teams to affect the recommendation. Stakeholders are expected to share project information with their neighbors or groups they represent to gather feedback for the project. Community Leadership and Support is an ongoing process of group and individual meetings with community leaders to maintain a flow of information. A two-way communication first to the community about the project progress and then input from the community to the project. This communication has been facilitated by the inclusion of community leaders on the Project Leadership Team.
Community Working Group
Work sessions were held to bring stakeholders together to discover their common goals and priorities relating to transportation issues along I-25 through Pueblo. Each Community Working Group (CWG) meeting was conducted in a facilitated, yet informal small group. The groups met bimonthly to work through the 5 step decision-making process; brainstorming ideas and screening criteria to arrive at a recommendation for improvements to I-25 through Pueblo.
Why Does I-25 Need a ‘Good Look’?