HOV lanes on US 36 will require at least 3 people per car starting in 2016

BOULDER, Colo. - Transportation officials say they plan to increase the threshold for a high occupancy vehicle, or HOV, from a minimum of two occupants to three along the stretch of U.S. Highway 36 between Denver and Boulder.

The change will take effect when the highway improvement project on U.S. 36 is completed sometime in the beginning of 2016.

Colorado Department of Transportation officials say HOV3 will become the standard in the state starting in four years. Its debut is slated for the $425 million U.S. 36 project, as well as the existing express lanes on Interstate 25 north of downtown Denver.

One of the goals of the U.S. 36 project is to provide reliable travel time for buses between Denver and Boulder.

"Why not leave it as is? Will the roads get that much more congested?"  asked 7NEWS reporter Marc Stewart.  

 "When you look at the numbers, in regards, to the population growth, the growth you might have economically in that corridor, we really do see the growth being something that would dictate that use of the lane," said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.

CDOT points out that similar shifts have led to traffic flow improvements in Southern California and in Washington D.C., using this system.

While officials say there could be some initial congestion during the shift, it won’t be noticeable.

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