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Express Lanes

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Details on Motorcyclists in HOV lanes


Express Lanes Map
Learn more about new procedures for motorcyclists in HOV lanes.

Express Lanes have new rules that will affect drivers who choose to use them.

How you drive will determine whether you pay a toll or not, so make sure you plan ahead and learn how to use the Express Lanes ahead of time.

New Procedures for Motorcycles and Carpoolers

The House Transportation and Energy Committee voted no on Senate Bill 16-123 (SB 123) on April 21. The discussion, however, prompted new changes in the pass procedures for HOV Express Lanes, which include the following: Motorcycles will no longer be required to have a pass to use CDOT's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Express Lanes to for free.* Learn more.

The best way to prepare for your trip is to know how you will travel:

If you're a solo driver, you can use the Express Lanes anytime – all you need is an ExpressToll account and pass. Solo drivers with a pass will be charged the current toll rate on whatever highway Express Lane you travel on.

If you choose not to set up an ExpressToll account and get 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 the toll rate based on how far you travel in the Express Lane, plus additional charges to mail you the bill.

Would you like to take the Express Lanes toll free?

  • Travel as a carpooler with two or more passengers.
  • Make sure you have an ExpressToll account and pass. The Switchable HOV Transponder 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

While it might be tempting to use the Switchable HOV Transponder to avoid paying tolls, it is important to remember there will be enforcement on the roadway. Our local law enforcement officers will be out on the corridors and violations could cost up to $250.

* The I-70 Mountain Express Lane 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.

If you carpool, you get to travel free and fast, not having to pay a toll for the Express Lanes.*

To travel toll-free, carpoolers need:
 

  • A driver plus two or more passengers.
  • An ExpressToll account and a pass—specifically the Switchable HOV Transponder switched to the red bar (HOV mode). This switchable pass lets you change between the non-paying HOV mode when you carpool and the toll-paying mode when you travel alone.
  • If you do not have a pass but have enough people in your car to qualify for HOV and use the lanes for free, you will still get charged a toll, so be sure to get a pass
  • The switchable pass can be used on all Colorado Express Lanes highways and costs $15 to purchase. If you are planning to carpool only (never using the toll mode) and only on Express Lanes that offer free carpooling, you can get the pass for free.*
Switchable HOV transponder passes are now free for drivers who are planning to carpool only in CDOT's HOV Express Lanes.

While it might be tempting to use the Switchable HOV Transponder to avoid paying tolls, it is important to remember there will be enforcement on the roadway. Our local law enforcement officers will be out on the corridors and violations could cost up to $250.

* The I-70 Mountain Express Lane 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.

Trucks and commercial vehicles are not allowed in the I-70 Mountain Express Lane.

If you ride the bus, you won't have to change anything about your current commute, but you'll start noticing some new benefits. With Express Lanes, your bus ride is more reliable.

On US 36, the bus has an extra advantage with the ability to travel on the shoulder and with the Bus Rapid Transit service. For more information on routes and schedules, visit www.rtd-denver.com.

New Procedures for Motorcycles and Carpoolers:The House Transportation and Energy Committee voted no on Senate Bill 16-123 (SB 123) on April 21. The discussion, however, prompted new changes in the pass procedures for HOV Express Lanes, which include the following: Motorcycles will no longer be required to have a pass to use CDOT's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Express Lanes to for free.* Read more.

  • Make sure you have an ExpressToll account and pass if you'd like the option to travel toll-free as a carpooler
  • Carpoolers must travel with a driver and two or more passengers.

Small and mid-sized trucks with two or three axles may use the Express Lanes as toll paying customers or they may travel toll-free if they meet the HOV requirement, and have an ExpressToll account and pass.* Vehicles with more than three axles will be charged a $25 surcharge per toll point, no matter how many passengers are in the vehicle.

Here's what you need to know as a truck driver:

  • You will need an ExpressToll account and pass to travel on the Express Lanes if you have two or three axles
  • If you'd like to travel toll free (and you meet the axle requirement), make sure you have an ExpressToll account and pass, and have two passengers.
  • Any pass acquired through ExpressToll can be used on all Colorado Express Lanes highways but only the switchable one can be used for HOV.
  • If you have more than three axles, please drive in the general purpose lanes.

* The I-70 Mountain Express Lane 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.

Taxi drivers can use the Express Lanes anytime, and all you need is an ExpressToll account and pass. The Switchable HOV Transponder provides the flexibility to travel toll-free when you are traveling with two passengers. When you travel alone or with one passenger, you will be required to pay a toll.

As a taxi driver, here's what you need to know:

  • You will need an ExpressToll account and pass to travel on the Express Lanes.
  • To travel toll free, you need a Switchable HOV Transponder set to the red bar (HOV mode) and must be traveling with two or more passengers.
  • Any pass acquired through ExpressToll can be used on all Colorado Express Lanes highways but only the switchable one can be used for HOV

If you are visiting Colorado, make sure you plan ahead and know if you are going to use the Express Lanes. Everyone who uses Express Lanes needs an ExpressToll account and a pass.

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 higher toll rate based on how far you travel in the Express Lane. 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.

Would you like to take the Express Lanes toll free?

  • Travel as a carpooler with two or more passengers.
  • Set up an ExpressToll account and a pass – specifically ask for the Switchable HOV Transponder – this switchable pass 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

*The I-70 Mountain Express Lane 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.

Adding a Rental Car to an ExpressToll Account

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 their rental car on a tollroad. Rental vehicles not properly added to an account are billed through the rental car agency.

Rental Car Tolls Billed Through 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. Please contact the rental car agency directly if you have any questions.

Corridors

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Old Express Lanes

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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

Videos

US 36 Express Lanes

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The US 36 Express Lanes connect Boulder to Denver at I-25—specifically from Federal Boulevard in Westminster to Table Mesa Drive in Boulder. There is an Express Lane in each direction, alongside general-purpose lanes. The US 36 Express Lanes connect to the reversible I-25 Central Express Lanes between US 36 and downtown Denver.

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HOW TO USE

Drivers can carpool, pay a toll or use the 18-mile commuter bikeway between Denver and Boulder.

I TRAVEL IN A:

 

 

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Pay a toll, either as a solo driver, or as a driver and one passenger.

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HOV/Carpoolers must have an ExpressToll account and Switchable HOV transponder, as well as a driver, plus two or more passengers, to use the Express Lanes for free.

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Motorcyclists can use the Express Lanes for free without a pass.

Bus

The Express Lanes accommodate Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).


CORRIDOR BASICS

  • 16 miles of Express Lanes
  • 18-mile commuter bikeway
  • 18 miles of Flatiron Flyer Bus Rapid Transit Service
  • 7 toll collection points
  • Dynamic toll pricing system price depending on the time of day
  • Overhead signage indicates current toll prices. Tolls are collected through ExpressToll account or through License Plate Toll.

I-70 Mountain Express Lane

I-70 Mountain Express Lanes

The I-70 Mountain Express Lane runs eastbound on I-70 from Empire through the Veterans Memorial Tunnels to Idaho Springs. The lane is only open weekends and holidays and is a shoulder lane when not in use.

HOW TO USE

Drivers can only pay a toll. Trucks and trailers are not permitted.

I TRAVEL IN A:

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Motorcycles can use Express Lanes where carpooling is not allowed. A pass and ExpressToll account are required to avoid higher tolls.

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Pay a toll, either as a solo driver, or as a driver and one passenger.


CORRIDOR BASICS

  • 13 miles eastbound from Empire through Veterans Memorial Tunnels
  • Only open weekends and holidays for a total of 100 days per year
  • Overhead toll collection points; the toll price is for entire Express Lane
  • Toll-use only; no free motorcycle, carpool, trucks or trailers
  • Dynamic toll pricing keeps traffic moving. Prices fall to encourage drivers to use the lane and rise as the lane reaches capacity. No HOV

Testimonials

Debra Baskett

Debra Baskett
City of Westminster

The US 36 Express Lanes project transformed an aging, unsafe highway to a state-of-the-art travel corridor. The Express Lanes reduce travel times, whether for commuting or traveling to services and recreation in Denver or Boulder, or to the distinct communities in between.

As someone who has been working on and advocating for improvements along US 36 since the 1990s, and who uses the Express Lanes every day, it is so exciting to see the major components of this project on my daily commute, including the improved lanes, the five new bridges, the Flatiron Flyer zipping along in the Express Lanes and the 18-mile bikeway.

Given the limited funding available today for expanding roadways, I believe that the US 36 Express Lanes project will be a model for how strong regional partnerships and creative thinking can result in projects that move more people, more efficiently through our existing systems.

Frank Bruno

Frank Bruno
Via

One thing I have learned over my 14-year career working in Boulder for the University of Colorado, various nonprofits, the City of Boulder and now Via—a nonprofit organization providing on-demand paratransit and fixed route services—is that transportation impacts everyone.

Although I was initially skeptical about the benefits of the US 36 Express Lanes project, I have been amazed at how this project has transformed our region. The new Express Lanes have resulted in reduced travel times, more travel options, improved bike lanes and, most importantly, a less stressful travel experience.

Although I use the Express Lanes occasionally for work, it was a recent commute back to Boulder after back surgery that made me truly appreciate the smooth ride and faster speeds on the Express Lanes. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this great project!

Meg Collins

Meg Collins
Good Chemistry Nurseries

I live in Boulder and drive to downtown Denver every day for work. When I need to be downtown at a certain time for a meeting, I use the US 36 Express Lanes because the travel time is always consistent; I know exactly when I need to leave my house in order to get to my meeting on time.

Even before the second phase of the Express Lanes project opened, I used the Express Lanes from Pecos to downtown and from Federal Boulevard to the Interlocken Loop, which saved me about 10 to 15 minutes in each direction. Now that I can use the whole stretch of the Express Lanes, I save over 40 minutes per day! I love the Express Lanes!

Using the Express Lanes daily allows me enough time to walk my dogs, morning or evening. They appreciate the Express Lanes as much as I do!

I also love taking the Express Lanes during our frequent Colorado winter storms because I feel much safer in the Express Lanes. When most of the traffic is in stop-and-go mode on a snow-packed and icy road, I can keep moving in the Express Lanes and get home more quickly.

I-25 South Gap: Monument to Castle Rock

I-25 South Gap: Monument to Castle Rock

This project will build one new Express Lane in each direction of I-25 along an 18-mile stretch known as "The Gap"—south of Castle Rock to Monument.

HOW TO USE

I TRAVEL IN A:

 

 

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Vehicles with one to two people pay a toll to use the Express Lanes with an ExpressToll account or through a Licence Plate Toll.

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Vehicles with three or more people must have an ExpressToll account and Switchable HOV transponder to use the lanes for free.

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Motorcyclists can use the Express Lanes for free without a pass.

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Bus and other transit can travel in the Express Lanes.


CORRIDOR BASICS

  • 18 miles from Monument to Castle Rock
  • The project will add one Express Lane in each direction along with safety, infrastructure and wildlife crossing improvements.
  • Motorists will have a choice to take the general-purpose lanes for free, or drive the Express Lanes for a shorter and more reliable travel time in exchange for a toll.
  • Vehicles with three or more people and motorcycles will be able to use the Express Lanes for free.
  • Substantial construction completion is scheduled for late 2021, with tolling to begin in 2022.
  • Overhead signage will indicate toll prices and tolls will be collected through ExpressToll account or through License Plate Toll.

Express Lanes Master Plan

Colorado Department of Transportation and the High Performance Transportation Enterprise are implementing an Express Lanes Master Plan (ELMP) project to evaluate the provision and functionality of an integrated, statewide Express Lanes network.

The ELMP will provide the state of Colorado with an articulate, financially sustainable, and beneficial Express Lanes plan to enhance mobility, safety, and accessibility for statewide travelers in support of economic vitality. The following schedule identifies key upcoming milestones for the overall ELMP project. Please check back in the fall for more information, including draft findings.

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If you would like to leave a comment or ask a question, please send it to [email protected].

C470_ProposedTollRates.pdf

2015-10-30 I-70 Mountain Tolling_Fact_Sheet FINAL UPDATE.pdf

Toll Rate Schedule for I-25 Central Express Lanes.pdf

Toll Rate Schedule for I-25 Central Express Lanes.pdf

Toll Rate Schedule for I-25 Central Express Lanes.pdf

I25N_US36to120th_TollRates.pdf

I70_MEXL_TollRates.pdf

I25NSegments_120thE470_TollRange.pdf

I-25 North Segments 3 - 120th to E-470 Toll Range - January 2020.pdf

Colorado: The Official State Web Portal