Priority Projects & Corridors

Following are priority projects that HPTE is considering for a public-private partnership procurement. 

See the 2014 HPTE Annual Report for details about other HPTE-assisted CDOT projects—including US 36 Express Lanes (Phases 1 and 2), C-470 Express Lanes and I-70 West Mountain Corridor Eastbound Peak Period Shoulder Lane (PPSL).

Colorado demographers estimate that by 2040, the population of Larimer County and Weld County will increase by 52 percent and 111 percent, respectively. To provide better quality of life and economic vitality for the future, CDOT has concluded that additional improvements on I-25 North are necessary to provide modern and effective multi-modal transportation solutions for residents, commerce, and visitors traveling between Denver and Wyoming.

However, preliminary review by HPTE indicated that major improvements are not, at this time, a likely fit for a public private partnership approach. An updated level 2 traffic-and-revenue analysis (which assumes an HOV 3+ policy) has been completed and is being used to determine the financial viability of I-25 North Metro Express Lanes toll revenue to support additional capacity improvements in the corridor.

HPTE and CDOT will continue to evaluate options of financing transportation improvements in this vital corridor.

In the 50 years since construction, I-70 East from I-25 to Tower Road has grown into the state's most important central east-west transportation corridor. The deteriorating viaduct carries approximately 140,000 vehicles a day and is reaching the end of its useful life.

The I-70 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process began in 2003 to focus on highway improvements on I-70 between I-25 and Tower Road (12.5 miles) for improved safety, access and congestion reduction. CDOT has recommended a Partial Cover Lowered (PCL) option as the preferred alternative, which would:

  • remove the existing viaduct between Brighton Boulevard and Colorado Boulevard;
  • rebuild I-70 below-grade on the existing alignment; and
  • place a cover over the highway between Columbine Street and Clayton Street next to Swansea Elementary School.

The plan also contemplates adding two tolled Express Lanes in each direction to improve mobility and provide traveler choice in the corridor. The cost of the full project is estimated at $1.8 billion. The full Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) was released for public comment in August 2015.

Over the last year, at the direction of CDOT and the Transportation Commission, HPTE has been analyz­ing the benefits, risks and value of various delivery options for the project—including traditional, public-financed models, and several private investment and/or other partnering models. The considerations for private participation include the potential to reduce public sector risk, add innovation to the design, help shorten the construction timeline, and/or add to the project scope to maximize taxpayer dollars.

A preliminary Value for Money Analysis (VFM) was completed in December 2013, and recommended a full design, build, finance, and operate-and-maintain approach, structured as a performance payment concession of no more than 35 years, with CDOT retaining the toll revenues.

The HPTE recommended in August 2015, subject to ongoing review, a public-private partnership delivery model, which includes the PCL segment and one tolled Express Lane in each direction to I-225.A request for qualifications (RFQ) has been issued for the Central 70 project, and a draft Request for Proposal was released, posted and made accessible to both industry and the public in September 2015.

Major Corridors
 

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) selected Plenary Roads Denver as the Concessionaire for Phase 2 of the US 36 Express Lanes Project. Phase 2 focuses on the project elements from 88th Street in Louisville/Superior to Table Mesa/Foothills Parkway in Boulder, which will complete improvements to the entire US 36 corridor between Denver and Boulder.

The project is CDOT’s first public-private partnership (P3), an innovative partnership where the public and private sectors team together to provide transportation improvements and services to the traveling public. CDOT and HPTE have entered into a 50-year agreement with Plenary Roads Denver.

Phase 2 of the project will:

  • Construct an Express Lane in each direction of US 36 between 88th Street and Table Mesa for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) and tolled vehicles;
  • Reconstruct two general purpose lanes in each direction between 88th Street and Table Mesa
  • Widen the highway to accommodate 12-foot-wide inside and outside shoulders;
  • Replace the Coal Creek Bridge, rehabilitate and widen the South Boulder Creek bridge, and widen the McCaslin Boulevard bridge to accommodate a diverging diamond interchange;
  • Add Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) improvements, including new electronic display signage at stations and bus priority improvements at ramps. The improvements also will allow buses to operate on the shoulders of US 36 between interchanges to decrease bus travel time;
  • Install Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) for tolling, transit and traveler information, and incident management;
  • Install a separate commuter bikeway along the rest of the corridor; and
  • Improve the RTD station at McCaslin Boulevard.

In addition to the project elements, Plenary Roads Denver will be responsible for operating and maintaining the following highways:

  • US 36 between I-25 and Table Mesa
  • I-25 Express Lanes between downtown Denver and US 36

Responsibilities include minor repairs, striping, and snow and ice removal on the highways.

About two-thirds of the Phase 2 Project costs are funded through private sector equity and non-recourse debt. The project delivers much-needed capacity, while shifting operations and maintenance and replacement obligations to the private sector for the next 50 years. And, the P3 arrangement enables the project to be completed 20 years sooner than originally planned.

See information about Phase 1 of this project.

I-25 plays a significant role in the quality of life and economic vitality of northern Colorado. According to the State Demography Office, the population of Larimer County (316,000) is expected to increase by 52% by 2040. Similarly, Weld County (268,639) is expected to increase by 111% by 2040. In order to provide a better quality of life and economic vitality for the future, improvements are being made on I-25. The North I-25 project is a strategy to provide modern and effective multi-modal transportation solutions for residents, employees, and visitors traveling between Denver and Wyoming.

Currently, CDOT has begun construction to add a new tolled Express Lane in each direction from US 36 to 120th Avenue. As part of the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) Program, CDOT also plans adds new tolled Express Lane each direction I-25 from 120th Avenue to E-470/SH 7.

Will it be a Public-Private Partnership (P3)?

As part of RAMP, the High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) reviewed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Value For Money report to closely examine the construction and lifecycle cost data and potential revenues of the project to determine if it might support a public-private partnership (P3). After reviewing the risks and benefits, it was determined that the project does not yet fit a P3 model.

HPTE Board of Directors Approves Commercial Loan and Agreement to Fund the I-70 PPSL

On December 17th, the HPTE Board of Directors approved a $25 million 7-year commercial loan and related agreements to fill the funding gap to complete the I-70 eastbound Peak Period Shoulder Lanes. The loan has an interest rate of 2.79% and will be repaid through toll revenues. Those documents can be found in the Quick Links to the right of this page.

Overview

The project, part of CDOT's comprehensive plan to improve travel in the I-70 Mountain Corridor, will upgrade 13-miles of Eastbound I-70 within CDOT's existing right of way. The upgrades will create a wide shoulder that – only during peak travel periods – will operate as a third travel lane. The Express Lane will be dynamically priced to keep traffic moving. Prices will lower when CDOT wants to encourage drivers to use the lane and rise as the lane reaches capacity.

http://www.codot.gov/projects/I70mtnppsl

C-470 is the southwestern portion of the Denver Metro’s beltway. It runs along the densely populated Highlands Ranch and connects travelers from I-70 West to I-25 South. The corridor carries upwards of 100,000 vehicles every day in its busiest sections, by 2025, it is expected that the local population growth in the corridor will grow by 34 percent. Overall, the project adds new tolled Express Lanes and improves general purpose lanes from I-25 to Wadsworth.

Why (Or Why Not) P3

The High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) has recently completed a Level 2 Traffic & Revenue study that demonstrated that the project could generate enough revenue to borrow $100 million. There is need to analyze this further which will be completed in the Value for Money Analysis. As a result of the early analysis, it appears that the project may be a design-build procurement rather than a P3.

C-470 Investment Grade Traffic & Revenue Study NTP

On September 30, 2014, CDOT's Office of Major Project Development gave the Notice to Proceed for the C-470 Level 3 Traffic and Revenue analysis to Louis Berger Group. Their study will be completed late 2015. To read a summary, click here.