Work on the widening of the Interstate 25 South “gap” between Monument and Castle Rock has hit El Paso County in a big way, with crews now reconstructing the County Line Road bridge over the highway near Monument, officials announced Wednesday.
Colorado Department of Transportation and Kramer North America crews will double the size of the bridge to accommodate one through-lane and one left-turn lane in each direction and widen the shoulders on each side, project director Paul Neiman said.
“This is a typical diamond interchange,” Neiman said. “We’re upgrading this bridge with some better shoulders and better capacity to get through there.”
Crews are replacing the bridge, expected to be completed this year, in three phases, he said. In the first phase, currently underway, crews will construct the new outside lanes and shoulders for the bridge. Once traffic is moved onto the new outside lanes, crews will demolish the existing structure and construct the bridge's new inside lanes. Restriping and other finishing touches will be completed in the last phase.
Crews will maintain access to County Line Road for most of construction, Neiman said, but drivers should anticipate two major closures later this spring while the new bridge is built.
First, crews will close the bridge’s northbound ramps for six weeks to build new ramps on top of the existing old ramps and bring the new ramps up to the height of the new bridge, Neiman said. Other access on County Line Road will be open during this extended closure, he said.
At the end of the six-week closure, the County Line Road bridge, its ramps and intersections will close for four days while crews place the new ramps onto the new bridge.
Drivers should expect periodic closures of the County Line Road bridge and I-25, with ramp detours, while crews complete overhead bridge work and demolition. Intermittent traffic shifts, temporary road alignments, minor delays and possible one-way traffic will also occur, he said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is hosting a virtual open house through April 7 to share information on upcoming construction and traffic impacts. Attendees can leave feedback and questions for project leaders on the open house website at bit.ly/25CountyLine.
Reconstruction of the aging County Line Road bridge was added to the I-25 South “gap” project in 2019, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Tamara Rollison said, bringing the total cost of the project from $350 million to $419 million. Funding comes from a mix of state, local and federal money.
The expanded budget will also fund a new truck climbing lane on southbound I-25 between the Greenland Road interchange and the Monument weigh station, a permanent truck chain-up station on southbound I-25 in Larkspur at a former rest area, and mitigation of unsuitable soil found along the project area, Rollison said.
The County Line Road bridge is one of five being reconstructed in the project. Two bridges — the Spruce Mountain Road bridge and the Greenland Road interchange — are already complete, Rollison said.
Construction on the Upper Lake Gulch Road bridge in Larkspur is halfway complete, and the bridge over Plum Creek near Castle Rock is 65% complete, she said. Both bridges are expected to be completed this year, according to a news release.
Crews are also paving lanes and installing four new wildlife crossings that are anticipated to reduce animal/vehicle collisions along the corridor by up to 90%, Rollison said. To date, 57% of the paving is complete and two wildlife crossings have been built. Crews have also relocated 90,000 feet of existing fiber optic cable beneath the highway to modernize communications and power along the corridor and enable future enhanced technology, Rollison said.
Drivers should obey posted speed limits and avoid following too closely behind other vehicles when traveling through the project area — the leading cause of crashes through the “gap,” Colorado State Patrol Capt. Larry Oletski said.Last month, State Patrol reported a 15% reduction in traffic crashes through the project zone, which may have been a result of fewer cars on the road because of the pandemic, he said. But traffic is starting to move back toward pre-pandemic levels through the project area, bringing a higher chance of collisions, he said.
Work began on the project just before Labor Day 2018. When it is completed, the roadway will open new toll lanes in each direction, a sore point with some local residents and officials who objected to what they claimed amounted to double taxation, since local taxes helped fund the project. A state board is supposed to set the toll rates before the new lanes open, Rollison said previously.
The project is on budget and on schedule for completion in November 2022, she said.
For the latest updates on the project, visit i25gap.codot.gov or the project’s Facebook page (@I25SouthGapProject).