Nearly everyone who drives in metro Denver knows the frustration of dealing with traffic congestion on North I-25.
"It’s lots of folks cutting you off," said Vince Lawrence. "There's a lot of traffic with folks trying to get home at the end of the day."
CDOT estimates the stretch of I-25 between Highway 36 and 120th Avenue carries 174,000 vehicles a day.
On Monday, commuters will begin to see some relief. CDOT and the Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) plan to open the northbound express lane. A week later, on March 21, the southbound express lane will open.
"Travelers will be able to drive in the lanes for free and learn how to use them while the toll collection is waived during a testing period," said CDOT's director of communications Amy Ford in a news release. "Once testing is complete, drivers can choose to ride a bus, pay a toll as a single driver or carpool for free with one other person and an ExpressToll account and pass."
"I think HOV lanes are awesome," said Jaime Landwehr. "If I have the ability, if I have more than one person in my car, I'll definitely take advantage of it."
When asked if she'd pay to use the toll lane, Landwehr replied, "I think it depends on the situation. If I'm trying to get somewhere in a hurry, the cost obviously is going to outweigh the time I would otherwise be sitting on the Interstate."
Landwehr's father, Mike, said if the express lane on I-25 works as well as the one on Highway 36, he’ll use it.
"I've saved about 10 to 15 minutes on occasion when I've had to use it because of the traffic," Mr. Landwehr said. "Our city is growing and we have to be able to adapt. Making these changes is going to help us do that."
But not everyone thinks express lanes are the way to go.
"We probably pay more than we need to on Colorado roads," Lawrence told Denver7.
Lawrence said he'd rather see CDOT construct more general purpose lanes for everyone to use.
But CDOT argued that without tolls, the state can't afford to expand the highway, so more people would be dealing with congestion.
Ford said that commuters using the express lanes on I-25 will be able to shave about 20 minutes off their commute time. She said as more drivers move into the express lane, more space will open on the other lanes, improving commute times for those drivers.
What you need to know about the North I-25 Express Lanes:
- The North I-25 Express Lanes will be available 24 hours a day, however, they connect to the existing Central I-25 Express Lanes which are reversible lanes that are open in certain directions at different times of the day. As part of this project, there is a new connection to the existing Express Lane section that will force southbound traffic back on I-25 by 70th Street when the reversible lanes are northbound.
- Northbound travelers:
There are three northbound entries to the new Express Lane. Similar to the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, one toll is charged for the entire section. CDOT wants to encourage throughput and will charge one price for the whole section, no matter where the driver enters.
From northbound I-25, entrances are: before 84th Avenue, before Thornton Parkway, and before 104th Avenue.
- Southbound travelers:
There are three entrances to the southbound I-25 Express Lanes: After 120th Avenue, before Thornton Parkway and before 84th Avenue.
Entrances to the existing Express Lanes to Denver are at the I-270 exit ramp and another chance to enter right after the I-270 exit.
- Drivers who currently use the existing I-25 Express Lanes can use the new section for free during the testing period. Be advised that tolls are still being collected in the section from Denver to US 36 on the I-25 Express Lane.
- If you are driving from the US 36 Express Lanes to the northbound North I-25 Express Lane, you must exit the US 36 Express Lanes and then re-enter the North I-25 Express Lanes at 84th Avenue.
- Do not cross the solid white line; enter and exit at the designated areas only, shown with a white dotted line.
- Travelers will be charged the toll price posted when they entered an Express Lane, except for the sections that have toll collection being waived during testing. If the price should increase or decrease while they are in the lane, drivers will pay the price posted upon entry.
- Get a Pass! ExpressToll saves money each time. Go to www.expresstoll.com to get the pass that is right for you. The same ExpressToll passes (stickers or switchable transponders) that are used on CDOT’s Express Lanes on US 36, I-25 (existing), and I-70 Mountain, as well as E-470 and the Northwest Parkway will work on the North I-25 Express Lane.
CDOT and HPTE will host a telephone town hall meeting on May 2 to discuss the proposed toll rates for thiscorridor. Click here for more information on the Telephone Town Hall and click here for information on the proposed toll rates.