It's officially one of the busiest travel seasons of the year for the portion of Interstate 25 running between Castle Rock and Monument, and the entire 18-mile stretch is under construction, making it the largest road construction site in the state.
That's why Colorado Department of Transportation officials are reminding the public of key safety protocols when traveling the corridor and highlighting what construction activity they can expect to see in the months to come.
“We are ramping up big time,” spokeswoman Tamara Rollison said of the project.
The department expects traffic to increase by approximately 8% over the summer, a time when RVs and boats frequent the corridor combined with increased traffic to and from the annual Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, said spokesman Bob Wilson.
Two lanes will remain open in each direction during the day and peak hours, and a shoulder will be converted into a temporary lane during the Renaissance Festival to mitigate that traffic.
Pull-off locations are available for emergencies. Lane closures will occur at night when necessary. The Gap's speed limit has been lowered from 75 mph to 65 mph.
CDOT is urging drivers to slow down, leave ample room between them and the vehicle in front of them, and to never stop their vehicle on the interstate. Expect narrower lanes and shoulders, Rollison said, and stay attentive. She named distracted driving as one of the leading causes of crashes in the area. Drivers will notice lane shifts as well.
“Things in construction zones can change fast,” she said.
The $350 million project began in September 2018 near Castle Rock. Work is on track to wrap up in the fall of 2022, Rollison said. Crews are expanding the interstate by one express lane in each direction, repairing and replacing bridges, constructing wildlife crossings and widening shoulders.
“We're out there just about 24/7,” Rollison said.
The goal is to increase safety and provide travelers a reliable trip. Prior to construction, the area averaged one crash a day and was notorious for bottlenecking traffic.
Multiple CDOT representatives attributed past construction delays to unanticipated conditions on the roadway, such as sections that were in poorer shape than crews initially thought and needed more extensive rehabilitation.
The plan to widen the roadway by one express lane rather than a toll-free lane received pushback but Rollison said it's how the department will make the trip from Castle Rock to Monument more reliable.
“We will be able to offer a lane that will be at highway speeds," she said. "It won't be backed up.”
CDOT is using multiple channels to push information and updates on the project, including real-time alerts for drivers planning to travel the Gap. People can subscribe to text alerts by texting I25GAP to 21000, following CDOT on Twitter or Facebook, and going to the project website at i25gap.codot.gov.
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