Tolled express lanes planned for U.S. 36, Denver to Boulder

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 4/8/2013

The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to add tolled express lanes to the U.S. 36 corridor connecting Denver and Boulder.

CDOT signed a public-private partnership with Plenary Roads Denver to build and operate one express lane in each direction for the next 50 years once the project known as Phase 2 of the U.S. 36 Corridor is completed in 2015.

The express lanes will carry bus traffic, high-occupancy vehicles and single-occupant vehicles willing to pay a toll. Tolls will be administered electronically.

One component of the project allows rapid transit buses to operate on the 12-foot shoulders of the roadway during congested periods.

Plenary Roads Denver consists of the Plenary Group, Ames Construction, Granite Construction, engineer HDR, Transfield Services for maintenance and Goldman Sachs as the financial advisor.

CDOT says the U.S. 36 project is the first public-private partnership in the state, but it’s not the only toll road in the Denver area.

The E-470 loop is currently 47 miles long and carries a steep toll rate. To travel the entire route costs a five-axle truck $51 with an ExpressToll account or $63.80 using the one-time toll-by-plate method.

A 7-mile extension of the loop, known as the Northwest Parkway, has been operated by a consortium from Portugal and Brazil since 2007. This route also carries a steep toll rate, at $3.30 for two axles plus $3.30 per additional axle. Those rates are scheduled to increase to $3.40 starting May 1.

Denver’s I-25 Express Lanes, which opened in 2006, carry an $18 surcharge for trucks with four or more axles in addition to base rates. The base rate varies by time of day from 50 cents during off-peak times to $5 during afternoon rush hour.

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