COLORADO SPRINGS — We're learning more about how CDOT plans to implement meter lights along I-25 on-ramps in Colorado Springs. Plus, driving instructors say they have some concerns about how drivers will respond once the lights go online.
People may have noticed the signs and lights along many of the Colorado Springs I-25 on-ramps are now in place, but covered by black bags. News5 is told it'll still be months before they are put to use and even once they're ready it'll be a slow rollout one ramp at a time.
"Yes. You are seeing a lot more visibility of the project right now because we've got those signals going up with the black bags over them," said CDOT Spokesperson Michelle Puelen.
But there's more work to be done. CDOT doesn't expect the lights will go online until this summer.
“These will be when we see congestion. When we see speed drop below 45 miles an hour that's going to trigger the ramp metering to come on. That's going to trigger the green and red lights. That's going to trigger allowing just the right number of people onto the interstate,” said Puelen.
State traffic experts hope these meters will create more space for drivers during the merge.
"Number one thing we were seeing where those sideswipes people do not having enough room and trying to squeeze themselves in," said Puelen.
Mark Stolberg is the vice president of training at MasterDrive, a popular area driving school.
“Certainly it's intimidating to go merge onto the Interstate. That act is probably one of the more complex things that we do as drivers," said Stolberg.
Stolberg says while the ramp lights are designed to make things safer, the initial learning curve could create some problems.
"In a metered on-ramp you're going to have to accelerate probably a lot harder because you don't have the on-ramp to accelerate down when the meters in place. The other thing is a lot of people misunderstand, as they think that the meter guarantees them a space it doesn't," said Stolberg.
CDOT hopes a slow rollout of the 12 meter lights, one at a time, will make for a safe transition.
"There will be a kind of a slow progression of turning them on and that will let drivers get used to them, get adjusted to them and also allow us kind of a review time so we can see what operational time works," said Puelen.
This summer the first ramp light will be turned on along the northbound ramp of South Academy. Once CDOT is comfortable with how it's working they will move north to the next ramp and repeat the process until eventually all 12 ramp lights are up and running.