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CDOT starts $40 million, 18-month project on Highway 115 south of Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Official broke ground Wednesday on a major safety improvement project on Highway 115, a road that partly parallels Fort Carson south of the city and continues into Fremont County.

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The project will cover around 11 miles, from Rock Creek Canyon Road to the Fremont County line.

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The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) said that the project includes replacing the old bridge near Rock Creek Canyon Road, widening road shoulders and making other safety upgrades.

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Highway 115 has had many serious and fatal auto crashes in recent years; the highway is largely two lanes wide with sharp curves, crumbling pavement and heavy truck traffic.

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"One thing we want to do is install more turn lanes, as well as acceleration and deceleration lanes," said Lisa Tormoen Hickey, a state highway commissioner. "That will make it easier for traffic to pass big trucks uphill, and make it safer for the people who live along the highway to get on and off."

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Hickey said that the project will have major traffic impacts during the day, when most work will be completed, and ask that drivers be patient and drive carefully.

Randy Schranz, who has lived along the highway for 35 years, said that most neighbors are in favor of the project.

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"The only thing is that I wish they'd just widen it to four lanes," he said. "It's something that's been talked about for years. It's really needed because of the growth in the city and at Fort Carson. We also have more people now commuting to and from Pueblo and Cañon City to find housing. But any improvements CDOT makes here will be welcomed."

Shoshana Lew, CDOT's executive director, said that there are no plans presently to widen Highway 115.

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"We think that the safety improvements will have a significant impact," she said.

In the past, Lew said, projects like this one -- smaller and in rural areas -- would be overlooked.

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"But this project represents a shift in out thinking," she explained. "The governor really stressed the need to go hear from real people across the state about what they need. That means in every community, you understand what functions the road -- small, medium or large -- needs in getting people where they need to go."

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Approximately 14,000 vehicles travel Highway 115 daily, CDOT said.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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