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Pardon our Progress: Interstate 25 work set to begin March 1

Commuters drive along Interstate 25 near Interquest Parkway Feb. 6, 2013. The Colorado Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin a construction project March 1 that will widen Interstate 25 from four lanes to six between Woodmen Road and State Highway 105 in Monument. Commuters should expect delays driving to and from the Air Force Academy while construction is underway. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Branum)

Commuters drive along Interstate 25 near Interquest Parkway Feb. 6, 2013. The Colorado Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin a construction project March 1 that will widen Interstate 25 from four lanes to six between Woodmen Road and State Highway 105 in Monument. Commuters should expect delays driving to and from the Air Force Academy while construction is underway. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Branum)

Commuters drive along Interstate 25 near Interquest Parkway Feb. 6, 2013. The Colorado Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin a construction project March 1 that will widen Interstate 25 from four lanes to six between Woodmen Road and State Highway 105 in Monument. Commuters should expect delays driving to and from the Air Force Academy while construction is underway. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Branum)

Commuters drive along Interstate 25 near Interquest Parkway Feb. 6, 2013. The Colorado Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin a construction project March 1 that will widen Interstate 25 from four lanes to six between Woodmen Road and State Highway 105 in Monument. Commuters should expect delays driving to and from the Air Force Academy while construction is underway. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Branum)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Preparations to widen Interstate 25 from a four-lane to six-lane highway are underway and will affect Academy traffic next month when official construction begins.

Colorado Department of Transportation crews began core drilling Feb. 3, collecting samples of soil and concrete to prepare for construction from Woodmen Road to Monument March 1.

Travel times will increase during work on the $60-million to $66-million project, which will add two additional lanes from Woodmen Road to Interquest Parkway and one additional lane from Interquest Parkway to State Highway 105.

"Be patient, anticipate additional commute time, and be cognizant of people working on road edges," said Fred Williams, chief of contract management. "Two full lanes will be left open in each direction during the project with occasional nighttime single lane closures occurring.

The posted speed limits will be reduced by 10 mph in the work zones, Williams said.

"Be patient, as construction will last about 18 months," said Toby Boland, 10th Security Forces Squadron assistant operations officer. "Leave earlier for work."

There will be additional traffic congestion, especially during Academy events, Williams said.

"The good news is that CDOT and their contractor are pursuing a very aggressive timeframe to minimize disruption," Williams said. "Work is anticipated to be completed in construction segments."

The five segments will occur from Woodmen Road to Academy Boulevard, Academy Boulevard to Interquest Parkway, Interquest Parkway to Black Squirrel Creek, Black Squirrel Creek to a mile south of Baptist Road and Baptist Road to Highway 105.

"We will not have any lane closures during events such as Academy football games and graduations," CDOT Project Manager Dan Hunt said during a planning meeting for the project. "We're doing anything we can to notify the public of any impact issues or concerns."

Construction will extend approximately 11 miles north to Highway 105 and is expected to wrap up at the end of 2013. Work will primarily occur behind concrete barriers, said Bob Wilson, CDOT public relations manager.

Most affecting the Academy will be work on the North Gate interchange at Exit 156, Wilson said.

"The ramp will be completely refigured into a diamond interchange," he said. "Be prepared for slowdowns in the project area."

Approximately 100,000 motorists travel the I-25 corridor along the Academy each day, Williams said.

"Be cognizant of worker safety in the construction areas," he said. "The contractor is pursuing a very aggressive schedule. Best case, we'll see the project completed this year."