U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner recently attended a briefing with the I-25 Gap Coalition to discuss the progress of accelerating improvements along the stretch of road. “Our highways look like they did in …
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner recently attended a briefing with the I-25 Gap Coalition to discuss the progress of accelerating improvements along the stretch of road.
“Our highways look like they did in the '70s,” Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, said on Nov. 10 of the 18-mile stretch of I-25 that connects Castle Rock with Monument.
According to Douglas County Commissioner Roger Partridge, that stretch of road, known as the "Gap” has been neglected since the 1960s, but with the help of the I-25 Gap Coalition, improvements on the road could begin as early as November 2018, nearly 10 years sooner than if the coalition had not gotten involved.
Slow traffic patterns through parts of the Gap are only part of the problem, according to Partridge and Gardner. Safety issues are also a concern, both for motorists and first responders. Some stretches of the Gap lack any type of emergency lane or shoulder, making it dangerous for vehicles that are involved in an accident to be moved out of traffic, and for first responders to safely navigate an accident scene.
Partridge said the Gap also serves as a designated route for vehicles hauling hazardous materials, which require additional safety measures in case of an accident. I-25 is also a major roadway for freight haulers, and the area has a lot of wildlife. The highway also carries traffic to several defense facilities, including the Air Force Academy, Fort Carson and Buckley Air Force Base.
The I-25 Gap Coalition was created in April with the purpose of speeding up improvements by helping organize and assemble financing for the project. The coalition members consist of representatives from Douglas, El Paso and Arapahoe counties, as well as seven cities, various HOA organizations and business alliances. The advocacy group operates independently of CDOT's current I-25 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study focusing on the highway from Monument to C-470, but in parallel and collaboration with CDOT.
The coalition has amassed several funding sources to cover the estimated $350 million cost of the project, including state, county and transportation money. They recently applied for an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant seeking $65 million for the Gap.
Partridge said based on everything falling into place, construction on the project could begin as early as November 2018, with a tentative completion date of September 2020.
Members of the public are invited to attend an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 500 Fairgrounds Road in Castle Rock, where they can receive updates and information regarding the project.