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Purpose of the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study

A study was conducted in 2018 through 2020 to investigate the need and overall vision for improved access to I-70 between Horizon Drive and I-70B in Grand Junction.

An interchange at 29 Road has long been identified in many local and regional plans as a way to enhance local and regional connectivity, as part of a larger plan to provide connections in and around Grand Junction.

Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction have been partnering on transportation improvements to support this connectivity for decades, including:

  • Completion of Riverside Parkway.
  • Project to carry 29 Road over I-70 Business Loop and Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR).

The city and county are continuing their partnership through this study to determine the best way to provide enhanced access to I-70 northeast of downtown Grand Junction. The study has developed a thorough understanding of the existing and future transportation conditions and economic development opportunities within the project area.

Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction are working to identify issues and opportunities related to improving I-70 access at or between the Horizon Drive and I-70B interchanges. The agencies have been working throughout the study process with a​​Agency stakeholders, area stakeholders, members of the public.

Logo for 29 Road Interchange at I-70 Planning and Environmental Linkages Study

Study Process and Recommendations

Study Process

This study was conducted using the PEL process. The PEL process is a study approach used to coordinate transportation planning efforts. It help to:

  • Identify potential transportation benefits
  • Make planning decisions that impact and environmental concerns

PEL studies link planning efforts to future environmental processes. They result in valuable information that may ultimately be used to prepare a NEPA study and project design.

Study Recommendations 

The detailed alternatives analysis process recommended:

  • A new 29 Road interchange at I-70,
  • A roadway connection to the north of I-70
  • Improvements on 29 Road between I-70 and Patterson Road.

Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction have secured funding for an environmental clearance study of the recommended improvements. This effort is a next step needed to confirm the proposed action, which will include public input opportunities.

Timing of the environmental study is yet to be determined. Funding for the interchange construction and related 29 Road improvements has not yet been identified, so timing of construction is uncertain.

Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Defined

A new interchange along I-70 between Horizon Drive and I-70B provides:

  • A new direct connection between US 50 and the state’s major east-west route – I-70.
  • Improved access to and from I-70 for residents and businesses to the south, potentially reducing trip lengths and traffic congestion on other routes.
  • An opportunity to integrate development near the Grand Junction Regional Airport into the surrounding community.
  • An incentive for new economic development in the Grand Valley by opening direct and convenient access to the commercial property north of I-70 and leading traffic to businesses along Patterson Road and North Avenue.

Identify the transportation vision, purpose, need for improved access to and from I-70 at or between Horizon Drive and I-70B.

Requirements for Completing the study process in accordance with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) will produce public and government involvement:

  • Public outreach
  • Direct involvement with local governments
    • Community groups
    • Stakeholders
    • Coordination with state and federal resource agencies.
  • Documentation of study process, findings, and recommendations to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) standards, so information can be utilized or referenced in future NEPA documentation.
  • Study documentation for FHWA concurrence.

The study should identify existing and potential future transportation conditions and economic development opportunities within the study area.

  • Evaluate the potential benefits and impacts of additional interchange access along I-70.
  • Identify initial improvements that may be completed prior to construction of the full ultimate improvements.
  • Estimate conceptual cost of recommended transportation improvements.
  • Enhance the region’s transportation network to improve local and regional connectivity and to provide enhanced access to/from I-70 to planned land use.
  • Improved Access to I-70 Needed.
  • Address limited transportation network connectivity with no central north-south arterial corridor with access to/from I-70.
  • Provide transportation infrastructure needed to support planned land use adjacent to and north of I-70.

Study Area Includes

I-70 between:

  • Existing adjacent Horizon Drive
  • I-70B interchanges
  • North-south arterials of 29 Road from Patterson Road to I70.
    • Horizon Drive
    • I-70B
Map for 29 Road Interchange at I-70 Planning and Environmental Linkages Study

PEL is a study process approach that is typically used to identify potential transportation benefits and impacts, along with environmental concerns, in a corridor or a specific location.

It is generally conducted before overall project construction funding and phasing is identified, and before specific problems and solutions are known.

PEL studies can be used to make planning decisions and for planning analysis. They help to:

  • Identify and prioritize future projects.
  • Develop the Purpose and Need for a project.
  • Determine project size or length.
  • Develop and refine a range of alternatives for improvements.

The study process can be helpful in discovering needs and desires and garnering project support for an overall vision when a project involves multiple jurisdictions, and can be used as a prioritization tool.

Studies should be able to link planning efforts to environmental processes and result in useful information that can be carried forward into the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The adoption and use of a PEL study in the NEPA process is subject to determination by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Colorado Division of Transportation (CDOT)

Planning and Environmental Linkages Program

Final Reports