DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — It's becoming known as the "Road of Death." At least that's what some people in Douglas County are calling a dangerous seven-mile stretch of Interstate 25 frontage road south of Castle Rock.
After yet another deadly crash in late January — the second since August along the road between Plum Creek Parkway and Tomah Road — neighbors are speaking out for change.
"It bothers me a lot that I have to drive by this every day," said Tom Prosceno, looking at the memorial to two teenagers killed there last summer. "I came upon it after it happened. It's horrible. There's been two fatalities on this road in five months. It's a death road. Something has to be done about this."
Lesli Fritts, who has lived nearby for 30 years, has also been sounding the alarm about the stretch of road, which is lined with guardrails that were installed during the I-25 Gap Project.
"When they added the third lane there, it brought the interstate much, much closer to this frontage road than what it ever was," said Fritts, who pointed out that the guardrails are protecting a concrete barrier to I-25, not drivers on the road. "So where guardrail is supposed to keep you safe, in this sense, it's created a huge danger for us all that live down here."
A planned interchange will eventually move the entire frontage road to the other side of the railroad tracks, which is why many neighbors believe local officials and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) have been slow to respond to concerns.
"I've heard this road is going to move to that side of the tracks for 20 years," Fritts said. "We can't keep waiting, waiting, waiting. It's a death trap."
Contact Denver7 obtained accident data for the seven-mile stretch of frontage road west of Interstate 25.
In the last two years, information from CDOT shows at least 16 accidents with at least 10 people injured. Last August, two teenagers died in a head-on collision. Last month, another crash killed one. Of those accidents, speed or alcohol was a contributing factor in at least five of them. This dataset is not complete, as CDOT is waiting on additional crash data.
"We are hoping that you guys could air it and get more action because nothing's happening," said Prosceno. "I guarantee there will be another fatality."
Prosceno pointed to the lack of shoulders and guardrails lining each side.
"I white knuckle down here all the time," he said. "And then people will just blow by me. It's sad that lives have been lost due to a guardrail. They need to take the guardrail out — all of it."
Emails obtained by Contact Denver7 show community members warning CDOT officials about the "very dangerous frontage road" two years ago. However, CDOT managers responded that the guardrail is "valid and necessary" and that removing it "would actually make the roadway less safe."
After last summer's tragic crash, records show CDOT changed course, pulling together a new team to evaluate the road and conduct a speed study. Last week, CDOT emailed community members stating, "We are in the process of some substantial changes."
The department has already added centerline rumble strips, lowered the speed limit from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour and stated it will remove approximately 11,000 feet of guardrail.
"I don't think it's enough. They need to take it all down," said Prosceno. "I guarantee there will be another fatality by May or when the March storms hit. There will be another one unless people start paying attention and thinking about it."
CDOT declined an on-camera interview, but a spokesperson said that the guardrails are slated to be removed within the next month, weather permitting.
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