MONUMENT – The work is finally happening, but the drive to and from Denver is about to be a lot longer than normal.
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s I-25 South Gap Project is set to begin Sept. 4 in Castle Rock with the first of three project phases. Work in Monument is slated to start at the beginning of next year.
It’s an 18-mile stretch connecting Colorado’s two largest cities, and a project many see as long overdue. The I-25 Gap will soon have fresh pavement, wider shoulders and a third lane, but the benefits come at a cost.
Beyond the $350 million needed to pay for it, Coloradans living near the interstate and those that travel the corridor often are worried about the anticipated construction congestion over the next three-and-a-half years.
“It’s like changing carpet in the middle of a New Years Eve party. We have to do it very carefully,” said Tamara Rollison, spokesperson for CDOT Region 1. “And we have to keep lanes open in the high travel times, so that people can get to work, so that emergency crews get to their destination.”
CDOT hosted an open house about the project Monday, giving those interested in it the chance to learn more from CDOT officials, the contractor and other subject matter experts.
Tom Shankey was one of dozens to attend the open house. He said he isn’t against the project, but he fears the impact it will have — both on daily commutes, and the dirt road used as a frontage road near his home.
“And I need to get to Denver, or Boulder or Fort Collins as quick as I can,” Shankey said. “And the amount of time I waste in traffic everyday is horrendous.”
Rollison said speed limits will drop to 65 miles per hour in the construction zone. Beyond that, drivers should expect narrower lanes, nighttime lane closures and extended travel times.
Then, there are concerns about the third lane, which will be a designated toll lane with an expected price of $2.25 when the stretch fully opens.
That feature is something Steve Mercado isn’t happy about.
“Making citizens pay for it… If it was a fourth lane, I could see it,” said Mercado, who lives in Monument. “But a third lane that you’d have to pay for just doesn’t make much logical sense to me.”
But CDOT said that’s the best way to manage the traffic flow between cities with increasing populations, as a four-lane stretch of often-traveled interstate will become six lanes by 2021.
“We will be working 24/7 on this project, so we can get it done,” Rollison said. “We want to get out of the travel lanes as soon as possible. We want to get the construction done as soon as possible.”
The project is expected to be complete in 2021. Right now, CDOT expects to fully implement the toll system in 2022.
CDOT also has a number of ways people interested in the project can receive updates:
- If you’d like email updates, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can sign up for text alerts by texting ‘I25GAP’ to 21000.
- Call the construction hotline: 720-745-5434.
- Project website: www.i25gap.codot.gov.
- Facebook updates can be found on CDOT’s page: www.facebook.com/ColoradoDOT.
- Or, updates will be posted to CDOT’s Twitter page: www.twitter.com/ColoradoDOT.