DOUGLAS COUNTY — Safety for all the people driving through the 18 miles of the I-25 Gap road construction zone, is a major task within the multi-year build. "The project has many traffic shifts. All those shifts have inherent danger to them,” said CDOT’s Regional Project Director, Paul Neiman, “We've got to make sure we protect the public of all those dangers driving through."
The size and scope of the project lead to the creation of bi-weekly safety task force. It includes CDOT staff, contractor representatives, Colorado State Patrol troopers, and leaders from fire departments. A group of more than 20 gathering twice a month. "It's ever evolving," said Castle Rock Fire Department, Deputy Chief Rich Martin. He is referring to traffic patterns, lane alignment and access along the lengthy Gap project. He is also talking about safety strategies that adjust every couple of weeks to keep up with what is happening in the construction zone.
Cement barriers and narrow lanes can block fire departments and ambulances from emergency scenes. The meetings address issues and find solutions. “So that we can get better access to the people in a quicker manner,” said Martin. Updates from the safety collaboration are then distributed to anyone in the area who may be dispatched to emergencies in the Gap.
Problem areas often become areas with increased traffic patrols. “Talk about the data they’re gathering compared to data we have,” said Sergeant David Copley with Colorado State Patrol, “Modify areas of enforcement and make sure we put our troopers in the right places a the right times.”
With more than 70 thousand cars a day traveling through the construction zone, safety has to be a major investment. “We've got $30 million plus, put into just safety for the public," said Neiman. It pays for things like variable speed signs, traffic cameras, safety patrols and added law enforcement.
There is a variable the safety plan can only influence. Drivers need to help. Excessive speed and following too close continue to cause accidents and major traffic delays in the construction zone.
Note: The video of the crowded meeting was shot before the COVID-19 outbreak.