Drivers using the express lanes from Louisville to Boulder will now have to pay. The tolls kicked in Wednesday morning on the final stretch of the U.S. 36 Express Lane project.
For the past couple of months the lanes have been open to drivers free-of-charge while the Colorado Department of Transportation ran tests.
"What we’ve been seeing overall in express lane corridors is that everybody benefits, so from the free lanes to the express lanes we’re seeing overall consistent speeds, faster speeds and reduced travel times," said Megan Castle, CDOT Communications Manager.
Prices vary depending on the time of day. Here's a link to the CDOT rate list for the entire U.S. 36 Express Lane corridor. During peak morning hours it can cost drivers $8.75 to get from Denver to Boulder. Evening commuters from Boulder to Denver can expect to pay $6.45. Motorcycles are free if drivers have an express toll account and pass. Drivers are charged on weekends, too, if they use the toll lanes.
Castle said the express lanes are just one solution to combat congestion. She recommended anyone planning to use the lane obtain the express toll account and pass .
"You can save money if you want to use the general purpose lanes and then decide to use the express lane, get in where there’s congestion," said Castle.
CDOT recently released numbers showing improved drive times on various express lanes across the state.
- I-70 Mountain Express Lane during the Mountain Luther King Holiday at 4 p.m. had travel times around 17 minutes in all lanes. CDOT officials say travel times were 23 minutes in 2012, showing overall reduced travel times by approximately six minutes. They also analyzed times after 7:30 p.m. showing 14-16 minutes for all lanes, compared with 17-33 minutes in 2013.
- US 36 Express Lane showed an increase in driver speeds. In 2011 at 7:40 a.m. speeds were 35 mph, compared with 2015 when CDOT recorded speeds of 45 mph.
This month North I-25 Express Lanes opened for testing from 120th Avenue to the existing Central I-25 Express Lanes in Denver. Tolling is expected to begin in early summer.