FORT CARSON, Colo. (KRDO) -- Work has finished on two road improvement project at Fort Carson, on each side of Gate 19, meant to provide easier access and safety for post personnel and commuters.
According to officials, people coming from Fountain or Pueblo can save time and avoid heavy traffic at Gate 20 by using Gate 19, four miles south of Gate 20 and around two miles west of the Fountain exit on Interstate 25.
It's expected to take roughly five minutes from I-25 to gate 19, and about ten minutes to get from Gate 19 to the Wilderness Road roundabout outside of Butts Army Heliport, depending on traffic.
The Fort Carson Essayons Road improvement project included rebuilding, paving and widening the road from Gate 19 to the intersection at Butts Road; this phase of the project was completed in December 2021.
The Charter Oak Ranch Road project, completed by the Colorado Department of Transportation, replaced the four-way stop at the intersection of Charter Oak Ranch Road and Santa Fe Avenue and the improves the road up to the Gate 19 entrance.
"The road was in really, really bad shape," said CDOT engineer Dan Hunt. "It would have been better if it was a dirt road. So we provided drainage, curb and gutter, sidewalks and an improved roadway surface."
As far back as 2009 the project was deemed important to national defense by the Department of the Army -- which led to the joint project with CDOT, El Paso County, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and the federal government.
"It provides direct access to the southern part of the post," said Fort Carson public works spokesman Rick Orphan. "We have two full brigades down there, so several thousand soldiers are stationed down in that area."
To access gate 19, exit I-25 at mile marker 128 and proceed west on Santa Fe Avenue. Once at the traffic circle take the last exit marked Charter Oak Ranch Road out of the circle and drive up the hill. Gate 19 is at the top of the hill.
Charter Oak Ranch Road is one of four projects announced in 2019 as the Military Access, Mobility and Safety Improvement Project (MAMSIP), with participating partners sharing the $161 million cost.
A second phase of the project will improve safety along Highway 94 between Peterson and Schriever Space Force Bases by adding a westbound passing lane, fiber optic infrastructure and a "jug handle" redesign of the Blaney Road intersection that will keep slower-moving trucks from clogging passing traffic.
Also part of the project is widening South Academy Boulevard, east from I-25 to the Bradley Road exit, and replacing three bridges -- one on Academy and two overpasses on I-25.
The fourth phase, around halfway completed, is replacing crumbling asphalt pavement with concrete on I-25 between South Academy and Fountain.
All four projects were initially scheduled for completion by the end of last year; however, pandemic-related delays have extended the completion date to the end of 2024.