Programs

FAQ

An Express Lane is a tolled lane on a highway that drivers can choose to use for a reliable, shorter travel time. Express Lanes are tolled and offered next to the free general purpose lanes. Some Express Lanes offer transit, free carpooling and motorcycle. Express Lanes are managed by CDOT and the High-Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE).

Colorado's population is expected to increase 47 percent to 7.8 million residents by 2040. Colorado can’t build its way out of congestion. As Colorado's population continues to grow, Express Lanes are a long-term solution to make sure drivers will be able to get where they are going, and get there on time. Also, Express Lanes offer mobility choices to drivers and commuters.

Because that new regular lane will be congested again in just a few years. Transportation planners have a technical term for this concept ("induced demand"). We've seen this before when we added a new regular lane to I-25 through the heart of Denver as part of the TREX project in 2009. When it first opened, everyone moved through that section reliably. But now, less than 10 years later, it's more congested than before.

Express Lanes are priced to have just the right amount of traffic in the lane to give that driver a reliable, shorter travel time for the price of a toll. The less traffic, the lower the price. As traffic increases, so does the toll to keep the Express Lane moving.

No. Taking the Express Lane is always a choice. You can always choose to use the adjacent, non-tolled regular lanes. Express Lanes can deliver more consistent, faster speeds and reduced travel times for the entire corridor, including the general purpose lanes. So everyone benefits.

No. CDOT builds Express Lanes to meet each community's needs, and after extensively planning. Some offer bus rapid transit, some allow free motorcycle and carpools with 3 or more people, and some only operate part of the time. But all offer a toll for a reliable, shorter travel time.

Not really. When you pay to fuel up your vehicle, a portion of the fuel tax goes to CDOT for us to maintain the roadways, plow the snow and build new regular lanes. If you choose to use an Express Lane, the fee you pay goes to pay for the operation and maintenance of the Express Lane itself and sometimes for construction of that lane.

CDOT currently has three Express Lanes

  1. US 36, from Boulder to Denver;
  2. I-25 from downtown Denver to 120th Avenue; and
  3. the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, on eastbound I-70, from Empire to Idaho Springs.

Four more Express Lanes are currently under construction (or will be this summer):

  1. I-25 from 120th Avenue to Northwest Parkway/E-470;
  2. I-70 between Brighton Boulevard and Chambers Road;
  3. C-470 from I-25 to Wadsworth; and
  4. I-25 from Johnstown to Fort Collins.

Yes! On CDOT's three Express Lane corridors, travelers in all lanes (including the regular lanes) see time savings of anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent. Drivers in the regular lanes are getting to home and work faster because some of the other drivers are choosing to pay a toll and use and Express Lane.

Express Lanes can deliver faster speeds, and more consistent and reduced travel times for the entire corridor, including the non-tolled regular lanes.

We use a system called INRIX to determine travel times.

You always have a choice to use the Express Lane or the regular lane. You can also travel in some Express Lanes for free by motorcycle, as a carpooler with three or more people, or by using transit.

The High-Performance Transporation Enterprise Board of Directors establishes toll rates annually and communicates with the corridor communities on toll rate changes.

Probably. Express Lanes are how we help ensure folks will be able to have a reliable, shorter travel time as Colorado grows. While some Express Lanes can contribute funds to capital construction costs, not all do.

HOV 3+ is on CDOT Express Lanes that offer HOV and toll options:

  • US 36 Express Lanes; and
  • all the I-25 Express Lanes:
    • Central I-25;
    • North I-25 Express Lanes: From US 36 to 120th Avenue.

Any additional human in the car counts as a passenger. So yes, babies count.

In the HOV world, you count as one person. Once your baby is born, he or she will be considered an additional passenger.

No. To use the Express Lanes for free, you must have three or more people in your car. You also need to have a Switchable HOV Transponder, and have it in the HOV mode to use the Express Lanes for free.

Stay up to date on all the incentives by visiting our HOV 3+ page.

Currently, Colorado has a limited list of hybrid vehicles that can use Express Lanes for free. While the list is full, you can add your name to the waiting list.

All ExpressToll passes can be ordered online at expresstoll.com, or you can call the ExpressToll Service Center at 303-537-3470. The customer service team can help you decide what pass is right for you.

There is no charge for the ExpressToll sticker tag for your vehicle or motorcycle, but when you open an ExpressToll account, you are required to have a $35 prepaid balance. Your account can have more than one vehicle on it, too.

If you are planning to carpool and use the HOV Express Lanes for free, you need a Switchable HOV Transponder. The switchable transponder is the only transponder that allows you to choose the carpool/HOV option and use the lanes for free. This transponder costs $15.

When you open an ExpressToll account, you are required to have a $35 prepaid toll balance. It will automatically take out $15 for a transponder, leaving a $20 prepaid toll balance.

HOV purists (people who carpool only) can get transponders for free as long as they exclusively carpool. But if they use it in TOLL mode, their credit card will be charged the $15 cost of the transponder, the account balance for the tolls, as well as any tolls incurred.

The Switchable HOV Transponder allows drivers options to travel as a toll-paying driver or in free carpool mode (where available) as HOV 3+. The switchable transponder will cost $15, and if you do not already have an account, you will be required to set up one with ExpressToll with a $35 prepaid balance. After the purchase of your switchable transponder, your balance will then be $20 in your account to be used for tolls.

HOV purists—people who only use their transponders in HOV mode for six months, and never use toll mode—are eligible for reimbursements.

Gift card rebates were mailed to HOV purists through Sept. 11, 2016; accounts that became HOV purists after that date can proactively call ExpressToll to get their reimbursement.

Purists can get transponders for free, but if they use them in toll mode, their credit card or account will be charged for the transponder, the account balance for the tolls, as well as any tolls incurred.

If you purchase a transponder, you will have to pay $15 for the transponder and have the remaining $20 balance in your ExpressToll account (after putting down the $35 deposit).

Gift card rebates were mailed to HOV purists through Sept. 11, 2016; accounts that became HOV purists after that date can proactively call ExpressToll to get their reimbursement.

Purists can get transponders for free, but if they use them in toll mode, their credit card or account will be charged for the transponder, the account balance for the tolls, as well as any tolls incurred.

If you purchased a transponder before spring 2017, you must pay $15 for the transponder and have the remaining $20 balance in your ExpressToll account ( after putting down the $35 deposit.) Eligible purists who did not receive a reimbursement in fall 2016 can proactively call ExpressToll to get their reimbursement.

Purists can get transponders for free, but if they use them in toll mode, their credit card or account will be charged for the transponder, the account balance for the tolls, as well as any tolls incurred.

If you are visiting Colorado, make sure you plan ahead and know if you are going to use the Express Lanes.

  • If you are traveling by motorcycle, you don't need a pass to use CDOT's HOV Express Lanes for free.
  • If you are traveling by car, you need a Switchable HOV transponder and an ExpressToll account, as well as three or more people in your vehicle to use CDOT's HOV Express Lanes for free. If you accidentally take the Express Lanes without a pass, you will be billed through a License Plate Toll. A bill will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle, and you will pay a toll rate plus administrative charges. If you are driving a rental car, the bill will be sent to the rental car company and you will likely incur charges based on that company's policy.

To save money on tolls while in Colorado:

  • Set up an ExpressToll account and get a pass.
    Specifically ask for the Switchable HOV Transponder, a switchable pass that lets you change between the non-paying HOV mode when you carpool and the toll-paying mode when you travel alone.
  • Any pass acquired through ExpressToll can be used on all Colorado Express Lanes highways, but only the switchable one can be used for HOV

ExpressToll customers can add a rental car license plate number to their toll account. To ensure the tolls are properly billed to the account, a customer must add the vehicle to the account BEFORE driving on the toll road, and include a start and end date for when the car will drive the road.

Adding a rental plate to an ExpressToll account allows customers to pay the tolls only and avoid the additional administrative fees charged by rental car companies for driving in the Express Lanes. Rental vehicles not properly added to an account are billed through the rental car agency.

All major rental car agencies register their vehicles with ExpressToll. The rental car agency will bill the tolls to the customer based on the terms written in the rental agreement. In addition, rental car agencies may apply additional administrative fees for toll-road usage. Some rental car agencies equip their cars with a non-removeable ExpressToll transponder. If so, the customer is automatically opted-in to the rental agency's toll plan. Be sure to contact the rental car agency and ExpressToll directly BEFORE you go to travel.

If you are an HOV purist and received transponder for free, using it in toll mode will result in credit card or charges to your account for the transponder, the account balance for the tolls and any tolls incurred. If you have already purchased your Switchable HOV Transponder, your prepaid account balance will be charged the toll.

Yes. You can use the US 36 and I-25 Express Lanes for free. Motorcyclists do not need a sticker pass to use the US 36 and I-25 Express Lanes for free. However, if you use the I-70 Mountain Express Lane or E-470 and Northwest Parkway toll roads, we recommend getting a sticker pass to save money on tolls.

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