Colorado prison inmates to monitor license plates on state's toll roads

AURORA, Colo. – E-470 was once ridiculed as the “road to nowhere.” Now, toll roads managed by the public highway authority connect nearly 50 miles of our state’s roads.

Soon, E-470 will also connect Colorado prison inmates to your license plates.

Denver7 spoke with E-470 Execute Director Tim Stewart about the change and why he feels it’s a necessary move.

Stewart pointed to our state’s rapid growth.

“If we wait until it hits us, it's too late,” he said.

Not only has growth put more people in our cities and on our roads, but changes are impacting business.

Referring to E-470 specifically, Stewart said, “We are maxed out in the physical spaces that we can put people in this building.”

So, E-470 is upgrading its technology and outsourcing tasks like license plate validation.

“The computer says it was ABC-123, but, it was AB0-128,” Stewart used as an example.

A group of more than 80 people have physically input and verified those changes. In fact, they reviewed 73 million images just last year.

According to E-470, those contracted to work in image review spend 5.8 seconds on one image, with an accuracy rate of 99.93 percent.

However, as Colorado continues to grow, so will the volume of license plate images moving through toll lanes. Therefore, more people are needed to get the work done.

Soon, that task will go to prison inmates from the Colorado Department of Corrections, Divisional Correction of Industries.

Stewart explained, “If all goes well and we don't encounter complications, we will look to either go live next week or the week following.”

Stewart called this a win-win situation because E-470 doesn’t have to pay to expand its building, and CCI inmates get the opportunity to build life skills.

Regarding any concern, Stewart said inmates will only have access to license plate numbers for the sake of verification.

“[We] don't know who the driver of the vehicle is,” he said. “Don't know anything other than, ‘I see an image and I need to verify the plate.’”

Stewart maintained that any sensitive information would be verified at E-470 headquarters.

“[It’s] because that starts getting into customer information, and we can't allow that to be seen by the CCI trustees,” Stewart added.

As mentioned above, E-470 was originally taunted as the “road to nowhere.” However, an independent study by EPS found it is now a road to opportunity.

“They are certain that it was $34.8 billion worth of economic development occurred because we're here,” Stewart said. “We're also saving about 14.8 million hours in traffic for everybody.”

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