DOUGLAS COUNTY — It's a scary place right now. That's what state troopers are telling News 5 as they try to keep construction workers and drivers safe between Monument and Castle Rock as the I-25 South Gap project continues. News 5's Patrick Nelson shows us how eyes in the sky are helping to identify dangerous drivers and hazards in this busy and narrow corridor.
With all this construction the dangers are real for drivers in the gap area of I-25. State troopers have even been killed during traffic stops in the area. It's why now Colorado State Patrol is relying on help from the sky to crackdown on bad drivers.
One after another, drivers try to make their way through the varying speeds and construction zones of the I-25 South Gap project.
"That road at 75 miles per hour is a scary road to do enforcement on and you're only inches away from traffic," said Trooper Nate Reid of Colorado State Patrol.
It's why Colorado State Patrol pilots like Reid are now taking to the sky.
"This is the actual plane we take out. We have three like this," Reid told News 5 as he walked through the CSP hangar. "We can paint a picture from the air that you can't really get from the ground."
Reid says he's had experience patrolling the I-25 gap area both on the ground and in the sky, but what he sees 1500 feet above the traffic is very concerning.
"I've been flying that gap and watching people pass on inside shoulders that someday are going to be a toll lane. I've seen people pass on the other shoulder where you have broken down cars and things like that," said Reid.
In March of last year, Colorado State Patrol announced it would be stepping up its aircraft enforcement over the I-25 South Gap project, and through an open records request News 5 has learned since March of 2020 troopers have managed to make at least 143 aircraft assisted traffic stops tied to bad driving habits.
"This one I just happened to stop on. It was 97 miles an hour," Reid said as he showed News 5 one of the stopwatches he uses to track the speed of drivers from the sky.
Watching as vehicles pass by carefully measured painted marks on the road, pilots use stopwatches to track speeders for miles, which leads to a costly ticket.
"If you take and you go over four or five miles and you're above 90 miles an hour, there's no reason to go that fast anytime," said Reid.
News 5 also acquired video taken during one of these air patrols. Reid says he's often joined on his flights by another trooper who works a camera that can record dangerous drivers.
"We attach a case number to it and it can be used in a court case," said Reid.
Colorado State Patrol has been able to stop more than 60 dangerous drivers passing through the I-25 South Gap project area since the start of the year. Troopers stopped several drivers every single month. The pilots doing this work say this kind of enforcement is here to stay.
News5 would like to know how you feel about driving the Gap.
Remember, you can always report an aggressive driver. These are calls that can be monitored by the patrolling aircraft.
Dial *CSP (*277)
To Report An Aggressive Driver