Is the so-called improved infrastructure worth the pain?
~ by Trevor Phipps ~
When I was a kid I remember a time when I was riding in the car with my father, and we drove past one of those bright orange road construction barrels and he said, “Look Trevor, that’s the Colorado state tree.”
Even decades ago during the infamous “T-Rex” project, which was the first expansion on Interstate 25 in the Denver metro area, road construction created a headache for motorists all across the state. And, as our state grows in population the need for improved roads becomes more and more important, thus creating a larger and larger amount of road construction projects across the state.
This last summer I happened to do a large amount of traveling all across the state, plus all of the states that border Colorado. Now don’t get me wrong, everywhere I went, random road construction projects popping up during my route slowed me down and frustrated me.
However, I can definitely say that the state of Colorado has a lot more active construction tieups than the states surrounding us. And worse of all, the projects in our state congest traffic a lot more. We are living in a construction nightmare. This leaves one major question that leaders refuse to answer: Is the so-called enhanced infrastructure worth the hassle?
The biggest headache in the state is the project on I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument. The efforts to turn that section of the interstate from for lanes to six that are being called “The Gap Project” definitely make the trip up to the Denver metro area from the south quite stressful.
If the trip is taken at night the traffic isn’t so bad, but the crews enforce their right to close down lanes without warning. This can make the trip even more stressful. When the trip is taken any time in the daytime, the traffic going through the gap gets a little crazy. One accident can leave motorists stuck sitting in their cars for thirty minutes, an hour, or more.
Anyone who has driven the route recently knows that the two lanes drivers currently have to go down are uneven with cracks running down the middle of them. When I drive my car down the gap, the cracks in the road and the uneven lanes make my cars’ front wheels turn either towards the other lane or into one of the concrete barriers that are located on each side of the two lanes going both directions.
Going around a semi-truck is even scarier because the driver of the truck has to ride the center dotted line because the lanes are narrow, so as my front wheels jerk to the center it feels as if I am going to go right into a semi. In the winter, the drive is even scarier because slick conditions can make a car swerve even more when driving over the cracks and uneven lanes.
No Relief From Local Hassles
Locally, road construction has been a pain as well with all of the projects that are being completed on Hwy. 24. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s website, there have been nearly half a dozen projects on Highway 24 alone.
Currently motorists can experience the resurfacing project in Manitou Springs if they ever happen to take the drive up or down Ute Pass at night or real early in the morning. This project has left the road torn up in places and at night speeds are reduced and lanes get closed.
The other project that can shut down a lane or two from time to time is the fiber optic installation operation taking place on Hwy. 24. Shoulders close randomly and every once in a while a lane will be shut down. Other projects have included recent rock mitigation efforts on Ute Pass and a lane expansion in Cascade.
Some of the Hwy. 24 projects listed have been marked as completed, but others will still be going on for a while. The fiber optics project is scheduled to be completed in December of this year if it does not get delayed. The Manitou Springs resurfacing project isn’t slated to be done until spring of 2020, and that is again IF everything goes as planned and no delays occurred.
As far as the I-25 gap goes, it was recently reported that delays in the construction were going to push the completion of the project back even further from the original completion date of late 2021. CDOT officials now say that motorists will have to deal with the stresses of the gap well into 2022.
All of this is funny to me because I also remember my father saying years ago, “Once they get six lanes on I-25 running from Denver to Colorado Springs, they are going to need eight.” As the state continues to grow and the gap project continues to get delayed I feel as if my father’s words are going to become true.
So, what is the solution? On one hand we do need better roads. As politicians on all levels continue to put more money into the country’s infrastructure, road construction projects are inevitable. Maybe the answer is to announce the locations of the projects better and to create more efficient alternate routes