COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - North Gate Boulevard under Interstate 25 reopened to traffic at 11 a.m. Thursday.
The segment was closed to traffic since Sept. 22 so workers could construct two roundabouts -- one at each point where the I-25 on and off ramps intersect North Gate Boulevard.
"They're more efficient," Wayne Pittman, project engineer with CDOT told KRDO NewsChannel 13. "There's not a stop. There's no need to have traffic signals and they don't go out in bad weather."
Pittman said it should improve day-to-day operations and make it safer for drivers.
North Gate Boulevard is a main route to the Air Force Academy. Academy officials told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that they are thrilled the road is back open, especially in time for Wednesday night's AFA football game at Falcon Stadium.
CDOT said they purposely planned the project for the past three weeks because the Academy did not have any major events during that time. The roundabouts are expected to help with traffic to games and events.
A family-run coffee kiosk located on the southeast corner of the interchange had to close its doors during the construction project.
"We had to close this past two and a half weeks because of construction because you just don't have the traffic coming through the business," Cara Yanez told KRDO NewsChannel 13. Her father and aunt started the business, Coffee on the Go, a couple of years ago.
"Now that this roundabout is open, we're really hoping to get some more business and people notice our little kiosk a little more," Yanez said.
CDOT says these are the first roundabouts associated with I-25 in the Pikes Peak region. However, roundabouts are common along I-70 and in other parts of Colorado Springs.
"Colorado Springs has over a hundred of them in town," Pittman said. "People are getting more used to them and they're going to be used more and more."
One driver told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that navigating the roundabout was simple because she followed CDOT's signs.
"The only thing I had an issue with was the ramp was too short," Monica Ding said of exiting I-25 into the roundabout. "You really had to slow down fast."
Pittman said that permanent signs have been ordered for the interchange and will be in place soon. CDOT workers will be conducting erosion control and seeding for the next few weeks.
CDOT says they understand that some drivers may not feel comfortable with roundabouts, but studies prove they improve traffic flow and reduce backups.
The following tips are offered for traveling through the interchange:
- Watch for signs and pavement markings that guide you or prohibit certain movements
- Enter the roundabout when there is a big enough gap in traffic to your left
- Drive in a counterclockwise direction
- Do not stop in the roundabout or pass other vehicles
- Use your turn signals when you exit the roundabout
- If you miss your exit, continue around until you return to your exit
- Since these roundabouts have multiple lanes, choose your entry lane based on your destination:
- To turn right at the intersection, choose the right-hand lane and exit in the right-hand lane
- To continue through the intersection, choose either lane, unless otherwise signed, and exit in the lane you entered
- To turn left, choose the left lane