After a sizable increase in crashes, the Colorado State Patrol and Department of Transportation are stepping up traffic enforcement along the 18-mile “Gap” expansion project on I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock.
Data from the Colorado Department of Transportation shows 230 total crashes in the 12-month period before construction started on the “Gap” expansion project in September 2018. In the 12 months that followed, total crashes jumped to 388.
“That is not OK,” a stern-faced Maj. Tim Keeton of the Colorado State Patrol told reporters Wednesday.
Most of those 388 crashes — 66 percent — happened when a driver rear-ended the vehicle in front of them. Keeton said such wrecks are typically due to speeding, following too closely, or both.
So, CDOT and the State Patrol announced a handful of new measures designed to keep drivers safe along that busy stretch of highway.
The State Patrol is increasing enforcement, Keeton said. That includes more aerial tracking, where pilots like Trooper Josiah Ii track speeding cars from the air.
“We then radio down and have a trooper that’s waiting further down the roadway to meet that vehicle and address whatever the violation is,” he said.
Those pilots also keep an eye on where crashes happen and can direct law enforcement and first responders.
“We’re there to make sure it’s safe for everyone,” Ii said. “And believe me, we want that road back open and flowing smoothly.”
And effective Thursday, CDOT will lower the rush-hour speed limit in the gap from 60 miles per hour to 55 — and it could go lower if weather or traffic conditions demand it.
“Please, keep an eye out for those signs and follow them,” said Steve Harelson, CDOT’s chief engineer. “They’re for your safety.”
Colorado State Patrol officers stop drivers in the gap who are clocked doing more than 100 miles an hour with some regularity, Keeton said. Such infractions automatically result in a court date, he said, while more typical speeding offenses can still cost hundreds of dollars in fines.
“I want to be super clear about something,” he said. “I don't want your money. The Colorado State Patrol doesn't want your money. I want your safety."
Construction on the Gap project is expected to wrap up in 2022.