DENVER (CBS4) – Accidents are piling up near a busy stretch of Interstate 25.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is completely rebuilding the I-25 interchange at Santa Fe Boulevard in Denver and the accident rate is way up on northbound Santa Fe between Mississippi to Alameda.
It’s only a little over a mile, but the stretch of South Santa Fe features narrowed down lanes, twisting turns and speed reduction signs that cut posted speeds almost by half and are often ignored, according to CDOT.
CBS4 compiled crash statistics with help from the Traffic Division of the Denver Police Department. In the 5 months before construction started there were 106 accidents. But during the 5 months after work began accidents jumped more than 27 percent to 135.
“My youngest daughter just drove through this work zone last week and she said it is scary,” CDOT Chief Engineer Tim Harris said.
Harris says photo radar units were brought in by Denver in an effort to slow down traffic. More signage has been installed, and so have crash-absorbing barrels.
Police breakdown accidents by category. Hit-and-runs were up after the road work began, and so were DUIs — both drugs and alcohol.
Interestingly, the only thing down was crashes involving police vehicles. There was one before construction, but none after the project started.
One obvious issue is the required merge right for anybody trying to load onto I-25 northbound. Drivers not used to the construction zone are required to think fast.
But Harris doesn’t call the construction zone an “accident waiting to happen.”
“I don’t think you can say that. I think you can say a lot of our big projects do have additional challenges, and especially as the traffic volume increases, you have more accidents,” Harris said.
The Santa Fe interchange construction project won’t be finished until July of 2013.