DENVER - It's a warning you've heard about all week: a busy portion of Interstate 25 between Santa Fe and 6th Avenue will be closed for most of the weekend. But do you know how to get around what some are calling Denver's "traffic-nado?"
The Colorado Department of Transportation began full closures of the interstate in both directions between Santa Fe and 6th Avenue beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday night, and from Saturday night to all day Sunday.
I-25 won't reopen until 5 a.m. on Monday.
"We are very close to being finished," CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said Sunday night. "Many people listened to the warnings and stayed off I-25."
For weeks, CDOT had been warning about the closure.
"Realistically, the best bet is to cross I-25 off the list for that weekend and use alternative modes of transportation or alternate routes," CDOT Project Director Kevin Sullivan said in a statement posted to the CDOT website.
This major closure will allow crews to work on the "Gap Lane Project" that will make room for an extra northbound lane by narrow all existing lanes and shoulders. CDOT says the extra lane will help to improve traffic flow.
CDOT calls the Gap Lane Project a temporary fix for congestion along the corridor, but has stated that a long-term solution will not come until funding is available to make permanent improvements to I-25 between Alameda and US 6.
7NEWS tested the speeds on northbound I-25 to compare after the project is complete:
7NEWS used an amateur radar gun to test the speeds on northbound I-25 approaching Santa Fe on Friday afternoon.
Speeds in the right lane reached no faster than 20 miles per hour, but hovered around 12-15 miles per hour.
The first three lanes of traffic did not register on the radar gun. The speed only appears if the object is traveling faster than 10 miles per hour.
Next week, after the fourth lane is extended, 7NEWS will test the speeds again and see how much the project improved traffic.
CDOT also working on I-25 between 84th Avenue and Thornton Parkway:
During the same weekend, CDOT is planning for closures on I-25 at the 88th Avenue Bridge. Crews in that area are lowering the roadway.
"We can't emphasize this strongly enough: avoid this area of I-25 during these closures if at all possible," said Kevin Sullivan, CDOT project director. "We expect extensive backups, prolonged travel delays and excessive traffic congestion if traffic numbers reach normal Sunday volumes."
CDOT issued the following detours around the closure:
Northbound I-25 will detour to northbound Santa Fe Drive, continue north to 8th Avenue, west on 8th Avenue to Kalamath Street, and south on Kalamath Street to westbound US 6 to reconnect with northbound I-25.
Southbound I-25 will detour west on US 6 to Federal Boulevard, south on Federal Boulevard to 5th Avenue to merge onto eastbound US 6, and east on US 6 to reconnect with southbound I-25. There could also be delays along eastbound US 6 near I-25 with additional traffic following this detour route.
Northbound Santa Fe Drive: In conjunction with this closure, northbound Santa Fe Drive will close just south of I-25 over the weekend, with traffic detoured on Mississippi Avenue to northbound Broadway and eventually Lincoln Street. Access to businesses along Santa Fe Drive will be available via Alameda Avenue. Detour signage will guide commuters through the area.
However, 7NEWS Traffic Reporter Jayson Luber found some more routes to help get you even further away from the closure and the traffic on the detours.
"There will be officers directing traffic, but the farther you get away from the area around the closure the better," said Luber. "So, if you are heading northbound, aim for Downing Street, South University Boulevard or South Colorado Boulevard, and even further out, Sheridan or Federal could be a great way to get around the closure."
Luber added, "If you are headed southbound, you may want to head further west towards Wadsworth or I-225 or I-70, because it's going to be a bit of a mess."
For more detail on the CDOT project and detours, use this link: ch7ne.ws/1oTJqzc
Check realtime traffic conditions: www.thedenverchannel.com/traffic