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I-225 Pilot Project Not Sitting Well With Commuters

By Kelly Werthmann

DENVER (CBS4) - Later this month, the Colorado Department of Transportation is expected to begin construction that has many drivers and south Denver residents upset.

CDOT is conducting a pilot project to expand capacity on Interstate 225 southbound in the Denver Tech Center, an area it says is one of the worst bottlenecks in the region.

To combat the issue, CDOT will convert the shoulder into a third lane by restriping less than a mile of southbound I-225 from Yosemite Street to Interstate 25.

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The plan also includes concrete barriers that will cut off access to southbound I-25, restricting drivers only to northbound I-25.

"All that they're doing is adding traffic to get onto Bellview and Hampden, which are already horrible," Justin Perring, who lives near I-225 and Yosemite, said, "One of the prime reasons I bought in this location is for direct access to all the interstate interchanges."

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Perrin says his direct access will become an inconvenience with the changes.

He believes more drivers will rely on commuting along city streets to access southbound I-25, creating a bigger traffic issue and safety concerns.

"It's just shuffling the problem elsewhere," Perrin told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann.

Perrin is in good company when it comes to people aggravated by CDOT's pilot project.

Many people have shared their frustration on social media and neighborhood sites like Next Door.

On the CDOT Facebook page, one upset person wrote, "I've decided CDOT is using monkeys to design the 'improvements.'"

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(credit: CBS)

To address concerns, CDOT had its chief engineer and a regional director answer questions during a Facebook Live video Thursday evening. Among the top concerns from the dozens of viewers who chimed in was how CDOT will monitor the traffic impact in places like Greenwood Village.

"We're expecting minor increases in delays in those interchanges," Paul Jesaitis, Regional Transportation Director for CDOT, said, "but we're not expecting some form of Armageddon to occur."

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The Facebook event seemed to be an attempt to remind driver that CDOT's pilot plan for I-225 is not a long-term solution, rather one that fits their current budget and immediate need.

According to a CDOT study of the I-225 south congestion issue in 2013, the recommended long-term fix was $65 million.

The cost is high, CDOT explained on its Facebook page, because there is limited space to build new infrastructure with businesses and light rail bordering CDOT's right of ways and they would need to replace bridges and overpasses.

"That was suggested in 2014," Perrin said, "I don't know when they made their latest decision to move forward with that, but the population has increased so much and I don't know if they've done proper testing to justify means of the additional traffic this temporary fix will add to Yosemite, DTC Boulevard and Hampden."

CDOT engineer Josh Laipply explained during the Facebook Live event that engineers will monitor the traffic impacts using Bluetooth technology.

Traffic Impacts:

  • Nighttime work on southbound I-225 from Yosemite Street to I-25, lasting up to a month beginning later in October (information on exact dates forthcoming)
  • At least one lane open on southbound I-225 during overnight construction
  • First few nights: concrete barriers will prevent DTC Boulevard and other on-ramp traffic to I-225 southbound from entering I-25 southbound
  • Remaining nights: restriping southbound I-225

Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.

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