Interstate 25 between Castle Rock and Monument, known as the "Gap," will open almost a year ahead of schedule, Gov. Jared Polis and other officials announced Monday.

Construction to expand the 18-mile stretch from two to three lanes in each direction, with the new lane operating as an express lane, began in September 2018.

It was initially scheduled to be completed in November 2022, but officials expect all lanes to be open by mid-December this year.

KEY PROJECT FACTS (from Gov. Polis' office)

CDOT is improving I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock by:

- widening the highway from two to three lanes in each direction - the new lanes will operate as Express Lanes, scheduled to open with tolls waived in mid-December 2021

- widening shoulders along the length of the 18 miles in both directions - DONE

- rebuilding five bridges (Spruce Mountain Road, Upper Lake Gulch, Greenland and County Line Road bridges and bridge over Plum Creek) - DONE

- overlaying all lanes with new pavement - base pavement done and the final layer will be installed beginning late spring of 2022

- building four new wildlife crossings - DONE

- improving and modernizing five interchanges along the corridor - DONE

- installing 28 miles of deer fencing - complete in early 2022

- adding a southbound I-25 truck climbing lane at Monument Hill and a chain up station - DONE

- adding an additional lane on northbound I-25 over Monument Hill and eliminating the left lane merge at Colorado 105 - DONE

- modernizing communications and power along the corridor to enable future advanced technology - complete in 2022

- installing and testing toll infrastructure - complete in fall 2022

While most construction is scheduled to be completed by mid-December 2021, the entire project - including toll testing - is scheduled to be finished by November 2022. The cost of the project is $419 million.

ABOUT EXPRESS LANES

The new lane in each direction along the 18 miles of I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock will operate as an Express Lane. Tolls will be waived on the Express Lane until summer or fall of 2022. When the Express Lanes open by mid-December, motorists are urged to use the lanes safely, heed the speed limit, enter and exit the Express Lane through the dashed white line only. In addition, it is illegal to use an Express Lane as a passing lane and motorists can be fined if it is used for that purpose.

When toll collection begins later in 2022, motorists will have the choice of using the Express Lane for a faster, more reliable travel time in exchange for a toll. Express Lanes will be free to vehicles with three or more people and motorcycles. All travelers will have the choice of taking the general-purpose lanes for free.

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