North Gate exits will get a makeover this fall

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The northbound and southbound North Gate exits will be getting a makeover.

Construction to reconfigure the exits from Interstate 25 to North Gate Boulevard could begin in September, according to a spokesman with the by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

“We're still in the process of finalizing the dates and submitting our plans to the Air Force Academy,” said Amy Ford, CDOT's communications director. “Originally the plan was a three-month construction schedule. But we've come up with an expedited process. Now we're looking at getting it completed in two weeks.”

Construction was originally supposed to begin in mid July and last through October. But Ford said Academy officials expressed concerns over a construction project that would cause long delays over an extended period.

“We're excited about getting this going, but we have to make sure this works with the Academy,” Ford said. “We want to make sure we're all on the same page.”

Plans call for the loop ramps for exits 156A and 156B to be removed to create a roundabout where the ramps intersect with North Gate Boulevard. The purpose of the new design is to regulate traffic flow from Interstate 25 to eastbound and westbound North Gate Boulevard.

The main purpose for the roundabout will be to improve traffic flow through the area. The idea is that people won't have to stop and will be able to travel in a continual motion.

During construction, loop ramps for both exits will remain open for traffic to access North Gate Boulevard. Access to and from the Air Force Academy will also be provided.

Kiewit Infrastructure is the contractor of the Interstate 25 expansion project. It is developing plans to minimize delays, according to Ford. Academy officials have cautioned their own personnel to plan ahead and allow extra time to account for construction delays.

The North Gate project will also have an impact on business in the area, especially the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, which is located just west of Struthers Road

“Hopefully the access to our property will be better once that construction is completed,” said museum manager Dave Futey. “We're looking to upgrade our signage at the front (along North Gate Blvd.) But before we get any sort of new signage we need to know what this is all going to look like.”

Perhaps the business that will reap the greatest benefit by the project is Pro Bass Shops, which is scheduled to open Nov. 14. Pro Bass Shops is located about a half-mile off North Gate and will be the major tourist draw to the area along with Mining Museum and Academy.

The North Gate construction is a part of the I-25 expansion project that began in March. It is a $66.4 million plan to add one lane in each direction of the interstate between Woodmen Road and State Highway 105 in Monument. Construction for the 11-mile expansion is expected to wrap-up by early 2014.

According to the CDOT web site, future plans call for new North Gate on and off ramps that will hook up with Powers Boulevard. The new ramps would be located south of the Mining Museum.

“That's a few years down the road,” Ford said. “We have to first get the funding in place for that 3 ½-mile stretch of Powers Boulevard.”

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