The Colorado Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to expand the problem area of Interstate 25 between Monument and Castle Rock, known as the “gap.”
Thursday, CDOT held an open meeting for the public to learn about the changes and give their feedback.
“I think it’s unethical for the transportation department to ask the citizens of Colorado to pay for a lane that’s, almost exclusively, in my opinion, for the rich and famous,” said Joe Mark, who travels the I-25 gap often.
Mark agrees the stretch of road needs some help.
“I’ve nearly been killed on it several times,” he said.
He just doesn’t think this is the way to do it.
Voters approved funding for the widening of the gap in the general election, but some feel the express lane isn’t what they were voting for.
“I think they ought to increase the state gas tax a couple of cents, and build those lanes without the tolls. It should be open to the public,” Mark said.
He’s not alone in that opinion.
Brian Botton of Colorado Springs said he travels with his camper a lot, and agrees with Mark that this isn’t the way to do it.
“They’re treating us like second-class citizens,” he said.
“If they really, really want to a add a toll road, they ought to add one lane for free, and then a second lane as a toll, make it four lanes, because in 20 years we’re going to need that fourth lane anyway,” Botton said.
CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson is sure people will change their minds after they get used to the toll lane, as people have done in other places they’ve implemented an express toll lane.
“Once people experience how traffic moves well along all three lanes, then that goes away and we don’t hear that argument anymore,” Wilson said. “We don’t hear those arguments anymore on all the corridors that we have installed express lanes on.”
This toll lane would be for people in a hurry, or people who just want to go faster on I-25 for that 18-mile stretch. The price would run between $1 and $3, depending on the time of day you are driving and the amount of people on the roads.
Wilson said that toll money wouldn’t go toward building the expansion, but would help maintain it.
“The revenues don’t actually go for paying for the actual construction. It goes for maintaining the system, putting in the infrastructure, and then maintaining the express lanes,” Wilson said. “All the express lanes do need some funding to maintain.”
Wilson said there will always be options besides the express lane.
“There will always be two free lanes open to traffic at all times,” he said.
Mark and Botton are less than amused by the proposal.
“The citizens of Colorado Springs and Colorado shouldn’t subsidize lanes for the rich and famous,” Mark said.
“It’s only going to get worse, and this is just not the solution,” Botton said.
The project is expected to cost upwards of $350 million, start in 2018, and be completed by 2021.