Construction workers direct traffic at a site off Interstate 25 in Monument on Sept. 15, 2021. (Eli Imadali for Colorado Newsline)
All lanes of Interstate 25 between Castle Rock and Monument will be open by Christmas this year as major portions of the $419 million South Gap project get completed one year ahead of schedule.
“We are proud to deliver the Gap highway project ahead of schedule and under budget,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement Monday afternoon.
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“We are reducing traffic, improving infrastructure and safety and this stretch of I-25 is key to powering our economic recovery forward as it connects people, businesses and communities. I thank all of our local, state and federal partners for their collaboration,” he said.
Colorado Department of Transportation’s I-25 South Gap project began in September 2018 to add express toll lanes in each direction, widen shoulders, rebuild five bridges and various interchanges and create four new wildlife crossings. The express lanes are intended to ease traffic congestion, while the widened shoulders will create a safer space for drivers and state patrol officers to respond to incidents and traffic stops.
The 18-mile zone is the central, heavily trafficked route between Denver and Colorado Springs and is the site of frequent sluggish bottlenecks because of the construction. It had not been meaningfully updated since the 1950s, according to CDOT.
“It is our responsibility to make sure Colorado’s infrastructure keeps pace with our growth in tourism and population, especially along the Front Range,” Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said.
Major construction was expected to be completed by November 2022, but drivers will benefit from those extra lanes much sooner.
“We were able to accelerate the timeline while staying on budget due to strong integration with the project team that allowed for greater innovation and creative sequencing of construction activities,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in the statement.
For years, the conditions have created “hazards and long delays” for drivers in the Gap, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said. The construction contributes to the traffic, as do frequent crashes. CDOT estimates that 87,000 vehicles go through the Gap on a weekend day.
“We will soon have a much improved interstate as motorists reap the benefits of greater safety and travel reliability. On behalf of the many partners that made this project a reality, I’m thrilled to see this day arrive,” he said.
Drivers can use the express lanes without paying tolls when they open next month. Toll rates will go into effect next fall after testing is complete. Cars with three or more people in them will be able to use the express lanes for free.
Minor construction on the project will continue into next summer. That includes finishing the pavement overlay, landscaping and installing deer guards.
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