Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The project limits extend 41.6 miles (MP 0 to MP 42) along CO 52, from CO 119 north of Boulder in Boulder County to CO 79 east of Hudson in Weld County. CO 52 interchanges with I-25, US 85 and I-76 in Weld County. CO 52 is a major east – west connection corridor for the region which is experiencing an increase in residential and commercial development. The corridor provides critical east – west access from residential and rural areas to business centers, as well as commercial freight from industrial centers along the corridor.

Map of the corridor

The Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study is the first step toward identifying and seeking support for immediate and longer-term solutions for this vital stretch of highway. It is a long-range planning study that will rank and prioritize these solutions based on the needs of the corridor.

Most importantly, the PEL is a tool for CDOT to study the corridor, plan for the future, and identify potential funding and partnering opportunities. Completion of the PEL will best position CDOT and local agencies to accelerate projects and rely on the early design concepts and environmental analyses needed to advance construction.

Read more information about CDOT’s Planning and Environmental Linkages Program online here.

CDOT and local agencies are committed to implementing improvements on CO 52; however, the nature, timing and funding of those projects is unknown. Therefore, the PEL is the best tool at this time to lay the groundwork for future improvements by:

  • Developing an understanding of the corridor’s safety and mobility concerns
  • Identifying, defining and prioritizing projects based on the corridor's greatest needs
  • Identifying environmental constraints that may influence design options and/or delay project development with lengthy environmental reviews
  • Clarifying project costs and identifying financing and funding options to implement improvements
  • Providing a framework for CDOT to engage with local corridor communities, regional travelers, and other interested stakeholders to understand their concerns and ideas for immediate and long-term improvements
  • Supporting an efficient transition to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), final design and construction advertisement once funding is identified.

Conducting a thorough and inclusive analysis of the corridor deficiencies, safety and operational issues, potential environmental impacts, and costs and funding options through the PEL process will save time in the long run when projects are selected and approved to move forward. The recommended solutions must alleviate transportation problems, reflect community needs and values, and have support. Obtaining support on the best path forward from the public, local agencies, and elected officials is a central PEL objective.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was originally enacted by Congress in 1970 and establishes a process by which federally funded projects must be evaluated for potential environmental effects prior to approval by the relevant federal agency for clearance to begin construction. Since CDOT uses federal funding to maintain and improve the interstate system throughout Colorado, most improvement projects on the interstate must first undergo some level of NEPA review (Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Environmental Assessment (EA), or a Categorical Exclusion [CatEx]).

The completion of timely NEPA studies is an increasingly difficult task. For this reason, FHWA developed the PEL study process, which outlines a long-range planning process that investigates resources, identifies purpose and need, and evaluates alternatives similar to the NEPA process. The PEL process is intended to streamline future NEPA studies, saving cost and time, and allowing for a more efficient consideration of immediate needs and improvements that may not require exhaustive environmental impact review and can be done sooner.

A PEL uses transportation planning decisions and analysis, including purpose and need, identification of preliminary alternatives, and elimination of unreasonable alternatives, to inform NEPA. This helps reduce and eliminate duplication of work in the planning and NEPA phase of the project.

CDOT is working in collaboration with Stakeholders to identify a range of short and long-term improvements to identify projects that will improve corridor safety, maintain regional connectivity, improve functional integrity, and address current and future transportation needs along the corridor. The ACP will assist local agencies in making local land use decisions and preserve ROW for future growth and development.

Purpose and Need Statement: The project Purpose is an action statement that expresses the attainment of the project Vision, which reflects a long-term view for the corridor. The Purpose also supports why CDOT is doing this study. The project Needs are based on the corridor conditions and identified in the Existing Conditions Report. The Purpose and Need, together, address transportation-related themes that can be carried forward to the NEPA process for future federal project funding.

Goals: Project Goals are specific, actionable statements that support the Purpose and Need. These Goals are identified by stakeholders and may include non-transportation related concepts. Goals can be used to help focus the range of improvements. Visit the Study Documents and Reports page for more information. To see the Purpose and Need Statement for the CO 52 PEL/ACP click here.

This study is engaging local agencies from CO 119 to CO 79. CDOT has formed a Technical Team to better understand the local objectives which includes the communities of Keenesburg, Hudson, Fort Lupton, Fredrick, Erie, Dacono, Boulder County and Weld County. These local agencies have helped develop a reason, vision and Purpose and Need for the corridor, and assisted with identifying existing conditions. They continue to play a key role in connecting with local community members and understanding local community interests.

There are several ways to participate! We understand that any proposed solution to the region’s transportation needs must address issues and concerns from many stakeholders. Our process includes continuous outreach to engage community members throughout the study.

You can participate at the limited level of just getting information to a highly engaged level of being more formally involved. Some engagement opportunities include staying up to date by visiting our website; providing input on our interactive map; getting a question answered or submitting a comment through our project email, website comment form, or calling our hotline; interacting with project team members at virtual or in-person community meetings at key project milestones in Fall 2020 and Fall 2021; working with representatives from Boulder County, Dacono, Erie, Fort Lupton, Frederick, Hudson, Keenesburg, and Weld County who sit on the CO 52 Coalition; and many other activities as we move through the CO 52 PEL / ACP. Much thanks for your interest in the study, we look forward to working with you.

There are a couple of easy ways to ask a question or submit a comment:

  1. Provide input on our interactive map. Visit the Public Involvement page.
  2. Submit a question or comment through our project email [email protected]
  3. Submit a comment on the Engage with the Study page
  4. Calling our hotline at 720-336-0187
  5. Mail your comment to:
    SH 52 PEL / ACP
    c/o Jeffrey Range
    4696 Broadway #3
    Boulder, CO 80304

The project evaluated existing conditions within the corridor. This includes a high-level review of environmental resources located within the Environmental Study Area, which is a 1000-foot buffer from the centerline of the road. This baseline information will be considered as alternatives are developed and evaluated in the PEL.

The study identified current conditions of the corridor, including safety concerns, traffic patterns, roadway conditions, and environmental considerations. The Existing Conditions Report incorporates input from local agencies and government entities (Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, etc.). The Existing Conditions Report provided the basis for the development of the purpose and need and will inform subsequent components of the PEL.

View the Existing Conditions Report on the Study Documents and Reports page.

In the evaluation of existing conditions within the corridor, the study reviewed city and town comprehensive, land use, zoning, and other plans that influence potential alternatives for the corridor. The project team is engaging local agencies to help shape the alternatives that will come out of the PEL process.

Additionally, the study identified five segments along the corridor. Segment divisions considered traffic and roadway characteristics arising from political boundaries, community characteristics, and land use similarities. Almost all segments include one community along the corridor allowing individual community desires to be represented in the context of the overall corridor vision.

Evaluation of the existing conditions within the corridor includes a detailed analysis of traffic patterns and volumes throughout the corridor. The COVID pandemic has significantly altered traffic volumes along the corridor. To address this, traffic data was analyzed at a regional level using historic traffic data to understand existing conditions.

In order to facilitate the development of alternatives, traffic data was collected when volumes normalized, and regular traffic patterns began to resume. This traffic data will be compared to pre-COVID numbers, adjusted as needed, and will be used when developing alternatives.

Yes, improving safety is both a need and priority of this study. The study evaluated historic crash data to identify intersections and highway segments that are in need of safety improvements. Alternatives will be developed to address safety deficiencies in support of our Whole System Whole Safety initiative.