Old Express Lanes


CDOT has entered a new era of transportation – it’s an era defined by innovation and driven by necessity.  Moving people or groups from place to place, job to job, or facilitating economic growth is the definition of mobility.  Getting travelers from “point a” to “point b” is a matter of choice. As one of the top five fastest growing states in the country*, Colorado’s overly congested transportation corridors lead to deterioration – of travel time, road quality, safety, our economy and the environment.  As transportation and mobility needs increase, access to government funding is decreasing just as rapidly.  Between a gas tax that has not increased in 20 years, more energy efficient vehicles, changing travel behavior, voters disinterest to raise revenue and diminished government funding, Colorado is finding other ways to provide mobility through innovation in choice, innovation in funding and innovation in partnerships.

New Era of Innovation—Choice, Funding, Partnerships, Public Engagement, Project Delivery

In this new era of innovation, transportation needs must be met in new ways.  It is no longer effective to simply add roads or lanes to lighten congestion. Colorado is committed to increasing travel choices and providing operational efficiencies through a variety of travel options that include transit, biking and walking paths, car pooling and Express Lanes.

Express Lanes are built in addition to any existing general purpose lanes, providing drivers the choice of a new, optional lane. Tolls can change in price depending on the level of congestion – for example, during peak morning or evening traffic – to make sure the lane remains a free-flowing alternative for travelers at all times.

At the same time, Colorado is exploring new funding options to help keep motorists moving. Partnerships with city government, other transit departments and the private sector are helping to accelerate and maximize construction alternatives, limit long-term financial risks and guarantee transportation performance into the future.

Why Express Lanes?

Express Lanes increase roadway capacity, and help manage congestion on the highways. The use of toll pricing during peak travel times reduces delays, manages congestion, and maintains reliable travel times.

Where are Express Lanes?

Currently, Express Lanes span seven miles on I-25, between downtown Denver and US 36 and is currently extending those lanes in both directions to 120th Avenue (opening in 2016).  CDOT is also building Express Lanes on US 36 in both directions to Boulder as part of the new US 36 Express Lanes in addition to reconstructing the current general purpose lanes. The new lanes will be extended to 88th Street in Louisville (opening in 2015) and then to Table Mesa Drive in Boulder (opening in 2016). CDOT is planning Express Lanes in major mobility corridors across Colorado including I-70 through east Denver and in the mountains and C-470 – as a way to effectively manage traffic congestion.

Who can Use Express Lanes?

Anyone can use Express Lanes, there are simply different ways to travel them.  A traveler can choose to travel:

  • For free as a carpooler with either one or two passengers (by no later than 2017 all Express Lanes will require two passengers along with the driver) *

  • By transit on either priority buses or Bus Rapid Transit who can travel the corridor

  • By paying a toll as a single occupant vehicle

    And travelers are never forced to pay a toll and can always choose to travel in the adjacent free general purpose lanes.

    * Express Lanes on I-70 West in the mountains will not include a “free” policy for HOV vehicles given that a majority of vehicles traveling in the corridor typically have more than one passenger.

    * December 2013 -- Business Research Division at CU-Boulder's Leeds School of Business