Christine Nichols and Roger Felch aim to get on C-470 in Morrison by 6 a.m. every morning to drive to work at Castle View High School. At that hour, they can usually make the 40-mile drive from home to school in about 50 minutes, barring snow. On snowy days, they leave much earlier, sometimes before the district announces delays or cancellations.
“Afternoons are always much slower,” Nichols said. “Usually a little over an hour, with congestion at Santa Fe and C-470.”
That's why the teachers — both of whom have been at Castle View for 10 years — have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the North Meadows Extension in Castle Rock.
“It will cut off a good 10 to 15 minutes in the morning, and anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes in the afternoon,” Nichols said of their commute.
The school district also plans on using the new road with up to five different buses daily, said Donna Grattino, director of transportation for the Douglas County School District.
The North Meadows Extension — now named Castle Rock Parkway/North Meadows Drive — is a new two-mile road connecting The Meadows to U.S. Highway 85 and Interstate 25.
The project broke ground in October 2013 and is the Town of Castle Rock's largest transportation project ever. The $85 million project is a public partnership among the town, Douglas County and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The three-year road project passed its final inspection Aug. 26 and was scheduled to open to the public before Sept. 1.
The new road is expected to improve operations at the current Founders/Meadows Parkway interchange with I-25 and the intersection of Meadows Parkway and U.S. 85. It will also provide a second northern access for residents on the west side of town.
“The opening of Castle Rock Parkway and North Meadows has long been anticipated by Meadows residents,” said Castle Rock Mayor Paul Donahue, who lives in The Meadows. “The new interchange will alleviate much of the congestion residents experience during rush hour and on weekends around the outlet mall.”
For the past three years, Castle Rock Town Council has designated the project the No. 1 transportation priority for the town.
The original proposal was to build a road from The Meadows to U.S. 85 only. The project was expanded to include a connection to and new interchange with I-25, because Douglas County and CDOT were concerned about regional transportation issues.
The U.S. 85 interchange is at Castlegate Drive, near the Outlets at Castle Rock and The Pines Apartments. Original plans included only the north ramps — a southbound off-ramp and a northbound on-ramp. However, to provide the most flexibility and access, the town secured funding to add the south ramps as well.
With more growth anticipated, town council and the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners agreed in February to expand the portion between I-25 and U.S. 85 to four lanes.
Other infrastructure has also been put in place for easier future expansions to the road, including lane widening and another bridge, said Bob Goebel, Castle Rock public works director.
“We're not only building a road for today's traffic, but also thinking about what future needs are,” he said.
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