COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Would you spend the extra cash to use a toll lane when I-25 is backed up? The Colorado Department of Transportation is hoping the answer is yes.
CDOT officials just announced plans to add a toll express lane to both directions of the interstate between Monument and Castle Rock in an area known as "the gap" where there are currently only two lanes in each direction. It's a spot that's notorious for backups.
Both supporters and opponents of the toll lanes agree that the increased lanes are necessary.
Mark Waller is an El Paso County commissioner; he helped pass recent tax initiatives that will fund the eventual permanent lane expansion planned for that stretch of I-25.
"Colorado Springs, Denver, two of the 40 largest markets in America, and this section of road hasn't been updated since it was originally built in 1962," Waller noted.
Michael Lewis is the deputy executive director and chief pperations officer for CDOT.
"Eighteen hundred crashes in a year's period, 620 of them personal injury crashes -- that's really what this is about."
While both sides agree the lack of lanes is a problem, they disagree on how to fund the solution.
"The value of an express lane: they are available for anybody when they need it. When they don't need it, then they don't need to use it because they still have capacity," Lewis said.
"After the voters just supported to ballot initiatives to raise $25 million locally to support this state and federal project, my constituents aren't excited, certainly are not excited about any sort of tooling provision to make this work," Waller countered.
CDOT says the toll lanes are the only way to get the project done fast enough. The permanent, extra lanes will still be added to the outside lanes of I-25, but that will take time while CDOT notifies landowners on either side of the interstate of the expansion.
The toll lanes are a temporary fix, they will be created in what is now the median and left shoulder of the roadway. They will keep the toll lane even when outside lanes are added, making the interstate four lanes in each direction in the area.
CDOT has not said how much the tolls would be.
They are asking for public input at two separate meetings.
The first meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 5 in Castle Rock at 500 Fairgrounds Drive.
The second will be held in Colorado Springs on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 3755 Mark Dabling Blvd.
Both meetings are from 5-7 p.m. and both are open to the public.