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Drivers say I-225 bottleneck near Denver Tech Center still a hazard

CDOT has made improvements at I-225 interchange
Posted at 5:59 PM, Mar 23, 2018

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation has been trying to fix one the worst bottlenecks in the state: Southbound Interstate 225 through the Denver Tech Center. 

But drivers think it's still a hazard and want more room for error.

"I was at a complete stop, and I don't even know if he hit the brakes," said driver Mark Wilson, who was in an accident on the northbound ramp last week. 

Wilson said another driver ran out of gas and had parked in the middle of the ramp. He was able to stop, but the driver behind him couldn't and slammed into him.

Wilson believes where the crash happened turned an accident into a pileup.

"You couldn't pull off to the side or anything because there's no space. There is nowhere to go," said Wilson. "When the traffic is fine, it works great. But if there's a problem — and this was just somebody who ran out of gas — there's no margin."

CDOT expanded the highway to try to deal with the bottleneck by adding a lane. Two lanes now take drivers onto southbound I-25 while a single lane goes northbound.

"There is a shoulder for people to pull over. It's narrow in some areas, wider in others," said CDOT spokesperson Amy Ford. "But it's also about good traffic flow."

Wilson's biggest concern is with the cement barriers. He says they leave no margin for error.

"They're an accident waiting to happen, and for me, it didn't wait," said Wilson.

Ford said those barriers are designed to keep drivers from cutting across multiple lanes of the highway, and so far, she said the improvements are working.

"What we've seen is travel-time reductions for people of upwards of 50 to 60 percent," said Ford.

Wilson would like to see the entire bridge overhauled. Ford said CDOT would like to add another lane on the northbound ramp onto I-25, but it comes with a $60 million price tag.

"Of course, the first thing they're going to say is, 'Well, this is going to cost this much money.' And it's like, 'OK, this is where you spend the money,'" said Wilson.

"If we could find $60 million that was just in our budget, we would spend it tomorrow," said Ford. "But then there's, 'Should we spend $60 million there or should we spend it on the I-70 mountain corridor? Or perhaps 270 or perhaps I-25 South?'"

Ford also said the improvements at I-225 are part of a pilot program and CDOT is committed to making any other necessary changes.