For months we’ve known the Colorado Department of Transportation plans on widening the two-lane stretch of Interstate 25 between Castle Rock and Monument known as ‘the gap.’
On Tuesday night, they revealed what those plans could look like.
“We are moving aggressively with this. We have spent the last year studying the project,” said CDOT spokesperson Tamara Rollison.
The current plan calls for a new 12-foot express lane to be built in the stretch of road closest to the median, as well as wider shoulders.
CDOT says a year of studies suggest the express lane would lessen congestion, and by proxy, the number of accidents along the stretch.
“We [have] lost [lives] and that’s a huge thing. Saving lives, I would have to say is the number one reason why we’re making improvements,” Rollison said.
Trooper Jaimie Jursevics died in November 2015 when a drunk driver hit her during a traffic stop along the stretch.
One year later, Trooper Cody Donahue was investigating a wreck along I-25 when a semi-truck drifted across the solid white fog line, hitting and killing Donahue.
CDOT says those two deaths, along with the more than 600 injuries along ‘the gap’ between 2011 and 2015 prompted them to take action.
“The express lane improves traffic all across the lanes,” Rollison said.
CDOT says the project would cost around $350 million. None of that would be funded from possible toll revenue. That money, instead, will go toward road maintenance on the 18-mile stretch of highway.
CDOT says the plan is still a year from breaking ground if all goes well, which means plans could change.
Rollison wouldn’t commit to saying an express lane was the final solution, but she said it was the way forward for now. A final plan will be presented when the environmental study phase of the project ends in May and the design phase begins.
CDOT says by adding an express toll lane they’ll be able to guarantee a reliable trip. Adding a general third lane, according to Rollison, would quickly fill up, adding to the congestion issue. She says finding the ideal price point will attract enough drivers to the third lane, easing traffic, without becoming too full.