By Jeff Stahla

By the end of the summer, a pair of high-profile highway construction projects in east Loveland should be under way. The effects on area drivers should be minimal, however, because the work can be undertaken without major disruptions to traffic, the city’s chief engineer said.

Most people who travel the highway are feeling anything but dread.

“What I’ve heard is excitement the projects are being done,” said Dave Klockeman, city engineer.

First up to bid will be the reconstruction of the Crossroads Boulevard-Interstate 25 interchange.

Approved for construction on March 25, the $6 million project will be funded partially by federal stimulus money and funds contributed by the taxing district controlled by McWHINNEY.

Klockeman said he hopes to have state approval for the bid proposal by May 15, publication for bids soon after and a contract to bring to the Loveland City Council in the middle of June.

He said it’s possible that work on the project could start near the first of July or just after the Fourth of July holiday.

That work will include converting the exits at Crossroads Boulevard into teardrop-shaped roundabouts, allowing traffic to move more smoothly through the intersections. A couple of weekend closures may be needed, but the city will work with surrounding businesses to ensure they don’t occur on weekends with big events, such as the Larimer County Fair.

Work on the project should take about 10 months, with the bulk of it completed by this fall. Next spring, crews can come back to finish the details.

The bigger project, a $12 million improvement to the Interstate 25-U.S. 34 interchange, is about a month behind in the process.

Already Centerra Metro District No. 1 has paid for the design specifications, which have been completed.

Klockeman said he hopes to have the bid materials completed by June 15, approval from the City Council after that, with construction to start around the first of August.

The interchange will continue to carry traffic while construction is going on, he said.

“The phasing is set up to build under traffic,” he said.

Klockeman said the project will take 12 to 15 months, with the biggest share taking place in 2010.