Traffic moving faster after CDOT extends fourth lane on northbound I-25, but slow down still exists

DENVER - The weekend closure of I-25 appears to have worked.

The Colorado Department of Transportation shut down I-25 between Santa Fe and Sixth Avenue on Friday night into Saturday morning and again Saturday night into Monday morning to complete the "gap lane" project.

CDOT eliminated a merge lane and extended a fourth lane from Santa Fe to closer to Sixth Avenue for northbound traffic.

On Friday, 7NEWS checked the speeds of northbound vehicles as they approached Santa Fe. Right lane traffic traveled no faster than 20 miles an hour. Traffic was traveling so slow in the first three lanes that our radar gun did not detect the speeds, since the radar requires at least 10 mph to register a speed.

On Monday, 7NEWS speed-checked the same area and did not even need to radar gun to see the project is working.

Traffic was traveling 50-60 mph in all four lanes.

7NEWS also found the traffic jam still existed, just farther north.

There is a new merge closer to Sixth Avenue that has traffic slowed into the teens.

While drivers will continue to find an area that slows down, their overall commute should be quicker.

The weekend's CDOT project narrowed each lane of traffic going northbound, to allow for the fourth lane to be extended from Santa Fe to almost Sixth Avenue. The plan to properly widen the highway in that area is not a simple fix for CDOT.

"We are sandwiched right now with this project, in between actually, the river and the railroads," said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.

To widen the highway, CDOT will have to move the existing railroad which has always been located just east of the northbound I-25 lanes. Coming up with a permanent fix will take an environmental study and quite a bit of money.

"It's upwards of a $50 million-plus project," said Ford.

According to CDOT, the stretch of I-25 between Santa Fe and Sixth Avenue gets about 200,000 vehicles a day; 10,000-12,000 an hour. The gap lane project cost CDOT $4 million.

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