Colorado Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday afternoon that crews will complete the I-25 South Gap Project under budget and ahead of schedule.
The Colorado Department has been improving 18 miles of the interstate in "The Gap" — which runs between Monument and Castle Rock — since construction began in September 2018. It is the state's longest construction zone.
All lanes of traffic through the Gap will open by mid-December — about a year earlier than projected, Polis said. Work will continue along the sides, but it will not impact motorists.
"In a busy holiday season, the completion of this vital project will help families get to where they need to go," he said. "This is a major victory for people across Colorado."
The Gap is the only four-lane section of I-25 that connects Denver and Colorado Springs. Congestion, crashes and delays have increased in past years due to population growth.
The $419 million project has included widening the highway from two to three lanes in both directions, with the new lane operating as an express lane. That lane is free to vehicles with three or more people, and motorcycles. All other drivers will pay a toll.
The project has also included widening the shoulders, rebuilding bridges, constructing wildlife crossings, resurfacing with new pavement and modernizing technology.
Polis, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, and U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper were present for the announcement. They were joined by Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shoshana Lew, Chief of Colorado State Patrol Col. Matthew Packard, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, and Vice President of Kraemer North America Tim Maloney. CDOT selected Kraemer North America as the construction manager and general contractor for the project in August 2018.
Hickenlooper said he remembers being in the area to kick off the project in 2018.
"We were making jokes about how in London, they say, 'Mind the gap.' Well, people between Denver and Colorado Springs were sick of minding the gap. And here we are, just three years, a year ahead of schedule," he said. "It increases the safety and the efficiency for this vital artery between Colorado Springs and metropolitan Denver — our two economic hubs of this state."
CDOT's Lew said the project wouldn't have happened without a proper handoff between Hickenlooper and Polis and continued commitment between CDOT and both governors.
"What really drives major infrastructure projects are the boots on the ground. The multiple people and the crews, the equipment operators, the engineers, the inspectors, the testers — all working together every single day in both the public and private sector side," she said.
She said more than 3,200 field employees were hired and contributed more than 1.3 million hours of work since September 2018.