COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- As summer vacation season approaches, traffic on Interstate 25 between South Academy Boulevard and the city of Fountain will be slower and heavier -- partly because of several road projects along that eight-mile stretch.
As KRDO NewsChannel 13 previously reported, the Colorado Department of Transportation is preparing to replace the asphalt pavement on that segment with concrete for increased stability and durability.
Before that can happen, however, workers are going into part of the center median to build two temporary asphalt roads; southbound traffic will shift to those roads -- closer to northbound traffic -- when the concrete phase begins.
"We're hoping to make the shift before Memorial Day weekend," said Dan Hunt, project manager for CDOT. "It's possible that we could do it right after Memorial Day weekend. It all depends on when we get the preparatory work finished."
Next year, those same temporary roads will be used to shift northbound traffic for concrete there.
Hunt said that some of the temporary asphalt will remain, and some will be removed once all of the concrete is in place, and a guardrail will be installed between traffic going both directions.
Kent Greentree, of Walsenburg, is skeptical about the concrete project.
"I think concrete is a lot harder to drive on" he said. "Especially if you're towing something."
CDOT also is in the process of demolishing and replacing two bridges on I-25 across South Academy; and near the Fountain exit, a related project will build a roundabout in an industrial area at the intersection of Santa Fe Avenue and Charter Oak Ranch Road.
That project includes improving Charter Oak Ranch Road as it enters Fort Carson's Gate 19, straightening out a sharp curve and ultimately reducing traffic congestion a few miles north at the fort's Gate 20.
Lanes of I-25 in the work zone are currently rough, narrow and uneven -- creating driving challenges, particularly for trucks and other large vehicles.
"There already have been some accidents in there, and we're concerned about that," Hunt said Friday.
So, as an added safety measure, CDOT has built four temporary emergency pull-off areas on the northbound side, that drivers can use if necessary.
All of this work is part of a project announced by local leaders several years ago to improve access and safety in and out of area military installations.
CDOT said that the bridge project will cost around $20 million and the remainder of the work will cost approximately $70 million.