Ahead of the opening of a new Interstate 25 interchange, a major road for residents in the south Castle Rock area will undergo upgrades in a project that comes amid safety concerns for the two-lane road.
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The two-lane frontage road in the south Castle Rock area on the east side of Interstate 25 — a portion of which is called Wilcox Street — will also see changes on one short segment.
Castle Rock’s construction of a new interchange at I-25 and Crystal Valley Parkway will involve building a bridge over I-25. It also requires moving a portion of the east frontage road — about one-half mile north and south of Crystal Valley Parkway, according to the town’s website.
The project will add north and southbound on- and off-ramps for I-25, a bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks, and a connection to the relocated west frontage road.
(The frontage road on the west side of I-25 will be moved as part of a separate project.)
The interchange plan improves safety by eliminating one railroad crossing, a town fact sheet about the project says.
What’s more, changes to the west frontage road will eliminate three other railroad crossings, the sheet says.
A roundabout will be constructed on the east side of I-25 to “accommodate the northbound offramp and the intersection of the relocated east frontage road,” the sheet adds.
The need for the new interchange was identified by both Douglas County and Castle Rock planning, a frequently-asked-questions document says.
“This planning acknowledges that traffic demand is generated from approved residential, commercial, office and retail development. As the approved developments are built and homes are occupied, the traffic grows,” the document says.
The document adds: “The construction of the new interchange will provide an alternate route for traffic that may change traffic circulation patterns.”
Officials expect to start construction on the interchange this summer. Work could continue through late 2025.
“The reality is I think we were all brought together by the tragedy of the three deaths that we’ve seen in the last six months on this stretch of road,” George Teal, a Douglas County commissioner, said during a Feb. 28 town hall meeting about the street.
Area residents had raised the idea of holding the meeting, Teal said after a question-and-answer session where the crowd voiced several concerns about traffic and safety along the road.
Today, a pair of two-lane frontage roads sit along either side of I-25 in the south Castle Rock area, running south toward Larkspur. The project planned by Douglas County and the Town of Castle Rock will rebuild the road that sits west of the highway.
A Larkspur resident called the road a “main thoroughfare” that allows people to get around, including to Castle Rock.
Teams will move the road to the west side of the railroad tracks that also run parallel to I-25 and will add features that could make the road safer to drive.
The project could start this summer and may take several years to complete all the segments. Here’s a look at what will change and what’s already underway.
Officials will close the existing frontage road to make room for new ramps onto I-25, according to Aaron Monks, a project manager for Castle Rock.
In the next couple years, teams will build a new interchange to provide access to I-25 at Crystal Valley Parkway in the south Castle Rock area — where Territorial Road currently meets the frontage road — a short distance away from the future relocated frontage road.
All told, the west frontage road will be relocated and rebuilt from Plum Creek Parkway, in central Castle Rock, down south to Tomah Road outside town limits.
The southmost segment, handled by Douglas County, could see construction from this fall through summer or fall 2024.
A middle segment handled by Castle Rock — roughly from Crystal Valley Parkway south to the town limits — could see work from this summer through the next 12 months.
The northern segment’s timeline is less clear, potentially several years away from seeing construction. The relocated frontage road will be named Dawson Trails Boulevard, according to the county.
“In the future, 2030, Dawson Trails Blvd. will be extended north from Crystal Valley Parkway to Plum Creek Parkway, and the timing of development on the west side of the BNSF railroad tracks dictates the timing of this segment,” the county wrote on its website.
The southmost segment will remain a two-lane road — one lane in each direction — but it will gain a 12-foot painted median to provide access to the properties that sit west of the railroad tracks, according to the county.
That part of the new road also comes with about 4-foot shoulders and 2-foot gravel edges, according to the project plan.
The middle segment will still be a two-lane road at first, flanked by a 10-foot landscape area on one side and a 2-foot temporary shoulder on the other.
But at some point in the future, officials expect it to greatly expand, with two lanes in each direction and a “raised median and/or turn lane” in the middle, the plan says. On either edge of the road will be 6-foot bike lanes, 10-foot landscape areas and 10-foot sidewalks.
“As the development, Dawson Trails development, continues to expand and grow, they will be required to widen it to four lanes” on that middle segment, Monks said during the meeting.
The project will include left turn lanes on Bear Dance Drive and Tomah Road to connect with the new frontage road, said Art Griffith, a Douglas County project manager.
“I just want to point out the existing west I-25 frontage road will stay open through most of the interchange construction, and it will permanently stay open between Tomah and Sky View (Lane)” further to the south, Griffith told the crowd.
On the north end of the project area, the existing frontage road will see a “road closed” barrier at Yucca Hills Road, a short drive south of Plum Creek Parkway.
An official from the Colorado Department of Transportation, often called CDOT, said the agency is removing guardrail along the frontage road, a statement that elicited applause from the audience.
One commenter urged CDOT to continue removing guardrail, implying the rail creates a safety issue for the two-lane road and that it’s unnecessary because of existing separation between I-25 and the road.
“We have taken a look at the project and now that it is built, we have (reevaluated), and we are removing about 11,000 linear feet of guardrail,” said Stephanie Alanis, a CDOT program engineer.
About 10,000 feet have been removed already, with 2,000 left to go, and CDOT was to finish in early March depending on weather, Alanis said.
Officials also have lowered the speed limit, Alanis noted. Some commenters raised the issue of drivers passing other cars on the narrow road, a problem one man attributed to the lower speed limit.
But road management involves tradeoffs, Alanis said, adding: “You lower the design speed limit, and that allows us to also take away some of the guardrails.”
Four teens were involved in a head-on car collision on the frontage road around midnight Aug. 5. A man in a Toyota crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a pick-up truck carrying the teens.
Two of the 17-year-old passengers in the truck died in the accident, and an unidentified driver and another passenger were both taken to area hospitals for moderate to severe injuries.
Authorities suspected the man in the Toyota was driving under the influence.
The crash occurred on the road near mile marker 179, which sits near Territorial Road, according to a map created by a member of the public on the state’s website.
(Teal also noted a third death in recent months, seemingly from another fatal crash on the road in the area.)
One commenter at the town hall meeting felt that accidents are “a direct result” of increased traffic over the last 10 to 15 years.
“What is Douglas County doing to curtail the amount of development going on in the community, to mitigate all this increased traffic going forward?” he asked.
Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon responded that regarding growth, the county focuses on ensuring residents can get around.
The project is about “ensuring you’re not stuck in traffic and that your roads aren’t dangerous,” Laydon said.
Open space also factors into growth, said Laydon, noting that county residents recently passed a ballot measure to ensure the county has nearly $300 million through 15 years for open space, parks and historic resources.
“We’ve been able to preserve almost 50% of our county as open space. That also includes Pike National Forest, but by us preserving land, that land (cannot) be developed,” Laydon said.
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