Paying to go: CDOT plans on manged lanes for future highway projects

Toll lanes keep one lane moving during rush hour

All of CDOT's future major highway projects have managed toll lanes in them.

But unlike tollways that the Colorado Department of Transportation built in the past, this toll isn't necessarily put in place to pay for the road construction.

Instead, the concept of paying as you go is to keep one lane of traffic always moving -- even during rush hour.

"What we want to do with that toll is give motorists an option," said CDOT spokeswoman Mindy Crane. "If you want to pay a little bit to take that lane, you're going to have a reliable speed, a reliable option to get from point A to point B a little more quickly."

CDOT crews began work this autumn on the U.S. Highway 36 project. The project, which will be completed in Dec. 2014, will add a managed lane in each direction of traffic from Denver to Broomfield, and then onto Boulder.

"It's encouraging carpooling," Crane said. "It's going to help make it easier and more reliable for buses, so it's really a multi-modal solution."

In fact, RTD is a major investor in the U.S. 36 Project. The transit district is paying over $100 million of the $312 million project. Crane said the reason why RTD is a large partner in the project is because of the managed lanes. Buses will be given access to the managed lanes. That will give RTD a better chance at sticking with its bus schedule, even during rush hour, Crane said.

Tolls were collected on many roads, bridges and tunnels during the building boom of the 1920s.  In fact, tolls were a common mechanism to pay for a construction project.

That changed after the Federal Aid Highway Act was enacted in 1956. But tollways and toll lanes began creeping back  in the 1980s as the country’s infrastructure began to show its age.

Highway 36 was a tollway for 18 years, after it was created in 1950.

"Our budget, we have less money to go to these projects like U.S. 36," Crane said. "The dollars are more focused on maintaining our current system, which must of it was built in the '50s and '60s. And it is an aging infrastructure. So our dollars have to go to making sure our current system is reliable and safe."

Managed lanes are also planned for the I-25 North Corridor project, which is currently in the planning stages, as well as the Twin Tunnels Project.

Print this article Back to Top