COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Construction on the 18-mile "Gap" widening project on I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock will shift more toward the project's southern end in 2021, an official said Friday.
Tamara Rollison, a spokesperson with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said that one of the project's main components this year is building a new overpass on County Line Road -- which separates El Paso and Douglas counties.
"Much of that work will be done at night and we will continue to allow traffic through that area and build the bridge around it," she said. "We're hoping to start construction in February. The design phase is already finished."
Much of this year's construction, Rollison said, will focus on completing that bridge, as well as finishing two of four other new bridges at key interchanges north of County Line Road; completing two of four new wildlife crossings; and completing the remaining 40% of paving.
Last year, workers finished the northernmost five miles of the project near Castle Rock, and built a southbound climbing lane from just south of Greenland Road over Monument Hill that is currently being used as part of a traffic shift to safely accommodate construction in the area.
Crews also will finish installing the final 11 of 28 miles of wildlife fencing designed to keep animals off the highway and lead them to the new crossings.
"That should reduce animal-vehicle collisions in the Gap by 90%," Rollison said. "We've also done everything we can reduce traffic crashes and improve safety. We think that drivers are doing better in slowing down and leaving plenty of space between themselves and other drivers."
The project started in September and remains on schedule to be finished in late 2022, at a cost of $350 million. Workers are widening the freeway from two to three lanes in each direction, as well as adding wider shoulders for increased safety.
Rollison said that at the end of the project, the left lanes in each direction will serve as toll (express) lanes, and will be free to vehicles with three or more people and motorcycles until the amount of the toll is determined.
"I think they'll end up being among the lowest in the state, if not the nation," she said.
Some drivers have mixed feelings about the project.
"It's been forever," said Sandra Kyner. "And you know what, it's scary because the traffic's still bad. I just wish they could get it finished. It wouldn't be so bad now if they had done it a long time ago when the need was first identified."
Nate Schwinghammer said," "I think it's very productive. I will be happy when it's over. But I'm glad it's going to help the community, as far as travel and not backing up traffic so much."
Robin Fields said he's glad to see what appear to be sound walls being installed along Monument Hill.
"The noise is really bothersome where I live in Woodmoor," he said. "I complained about it when they first started talking about it. So hopefully they'll have some noise dissipation."