Time to celebrate US 85 / WCR 44 interchange at Peckham substantial completion

News Release

May 9, 2024 - Northeastern Colorado - Elected officials, CDOT leaders gather to cut the ribbon on 56th of the 10-year plan projects in Colorado

Weld County — Elected officials and Colorado Department of Transportation leaders gathered today to celebrate the completion of the new interchange at US Highway 85 and Weld County Road 44 near Peckham.

The project serves as an important part of CDOT's 10-Year Plan and improves safety along a critical artery for northeast Colorado. This is the first new interchange built on US 85 within Colorado in at least 30 years.

“I believe this is our 56th project from the 10-Year plan that has been completed, and we have more than 40 more projects currently under construction,” said CDOT Deputy Director Herman Stockinger. “This is one of our busiest highways in northeastern Colorado carrying approximately 31,000 vehicles per day at this particular location -around 15 percent of which are commercial motor vehicles.”

This is the last and the largest project that was part of closing or moving 12 different railroad crossings along US 85 as part of a compromise agreement forged by CDOT, Weld County and the Union Pacific Railroad.

“This has been a long time coming,” said State Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer who was a Weld County commissioner when the talks started more than a decade ago. She brought several people involved in those early talks and thanked everyone for getting this done.”

While many of the other closures were easier to handle with locals, the Peckham interchange and the closure of O Street took some innovative engineering.

The safety aspect was the main driver for the design here, said CDOT Regional Transportation Director Heather Paddock.

“In the old configuration, the Union Pacific railroad crossing was about 300 feet from the intersection,” she said. “This proximity to US 85 posed operational challenges for both roadway traffic and freight movement on the Union Pacific Rail Line. Passing or standing trains restricted travel and caused queuing, sometimes extending into US 85. Additionally, that at-grade crossing was a vehicular traffic to train conflict point.”

Before the project, the US 85/WCR 44 intersection experienced a high crash rate. Between 2012 and 2016 there were 35 recorded crashes, and 72 percent of those were broadside crashes, which often resulted in serious injury.

Weld County Commissioner Scott James spoke about being delayed by trains in this area since he was in high school. “Whatever time I got home, I would tell my parents that I was late because of the trains,” he said. “Now what are kids around here going to use for an excuse?”

Liisa Lawson Stark, Vice President - Public Affairs at Union Pacific Railroad, echoed the sentiment of the day. “Union Pacific is pleased to partner with Weld County, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Public Utilities Commission on this important project that improves safety, supports rail efficiency and growth in Colorado's economy, and improves quality of life in the communities we serve here in Weld County,” she said.

The new interchange improves safety, eliminates interaction between roadway traffic and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and provides efficient access control.

Major project features include:

  • Two new bridges to carry WCR 44 over US 85 and UPRR tracks
  • Roundabout at southbound US 85 ramps/WCR 44 intersection
  • Intersection improvements at WCR 44 and Niobrara Boulevard
  • Permanent closure of WCR 33 at US 85 and UPRR

Jalisco is the prime contractor for the $28.5-million project. While the project is substantially complete, there are a few final pieces to do that may require occasional lane closures. Final project completion is expected in early summer.

For additional information about this project:

CDOT team cut the ribbon at the US 85 and Weld County Road 44 Interchange completion celebration.
The CDOT team that made the project happen with many of the people who were in negotiations for more than a decade cut the ribbon to celebrate.

CDOT Deputy Executive Director Herman Stockinger talked to guests at the US 85 and Weld County Road 44 Interchange completion celebration.
CDOT Deputy Executive Director Herman Stockinger talked to the more than 50 invited guests for the event on Thursday.

Weld County Commissioner Scott James talked to guests at the US 85 and Weld County Road 44 Interchange completion celebration
Weld County Commissioner Scott James talked about how important this project will be for the residents and the economy of Weld County.

Northeast Regional Transportation Director Heather Paddock talked to the guests at the US 85 and Weld County Road 44 Interchange completion celebration.
Northeast Regional Transportation Director Heather Paddock addressed the crowd with the new bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad in the background.

Know Before You Go

Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:

Remember: Slow For The Cone Zone

The following tips are to help you stay safe while traveling through maintenance and construction work zones.

  • Do not speed in work zones. Obey the posted speed limits.
  • Stay Alert! Expect the unexpected.
  • Watch for workers. Drive with caution.
  • Don't change lanes unnecessarily.
  • Avoid using mobile devices such as phones while driving in work zones.
  • Turn on headlights so that workers and other drivers can see you.
  • Be especially alert at night while driving in work zones.
  • Expect delays, especially during peak travel times.
  • Allow ample space between you and the car in front of you.
  • Anticipate lane shifts and merge when directed to do so.
  • Be patient!

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