DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Drivers along the Interstate 25 South Gap Project, between Castle Rock and Monument, are being asked to slow down. The Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol are ramping up enforcement efforts amidst an increase in crashes.
“Since the construction started more than a year ago, crashes are up 60%,” explained Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Tim Keeton. “And that’s not okay.”
Keeton said not only have crashes increased, but so have the number of tickets troopers have issued to drivers.
“Which means people are driving less safely, in that zone,” he said on Wednesday.
The stretch of I-25 along the gap is under construction for major safety improvements. CDOT says they are widening the road, improving bridges and interchanges, and adding a truck ramp.
On Thursday, the speed limit on that stretch of interstate will be reduced to 55 mph.
Troopers say most crashes in the area are caused by drivers following too closely or speeding through the construction zone.
“The consequences are potentially serious injuries, and fatal car crashes,” Keeton said. “Those are not worth the risk to just go out there and drive as fast as you want.”
Troopers are stepping up safety enforcement, by utilizing a plane that will give law enforcement an aerial view since ground enforcement is limited due to construction.
“This airplane is flying above you, and it is merely timing you between two points that are clearly marked on the roadway,” he explained.
A camera on the plane pinpoints vehicle that are speeding or driving aggressively. The crew in the air, will then radio that information to a trooper on the ground below.
“We follow it until the trooper on the ground is able to contact him and eventually write a ticket,” explained Trooper Nate Reid.
CSP said tickets in a construction zone are costly.
“The reason that fines double in construction zones is because people are getting hurt and killed in crashes that are created by people not following the rules,” Keeton said.
In the last two years, two troopers were killed along the stretch of interstate while performing traffic stops.
CSP says another big issue is following distance, and that drivers need to leave one vehicle length between them and another vehicle for every 10 mph.