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C-470 Coalition recommends tolls in new lanes to fund expansion

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By Ramsey Scott

The C-470 Coalition will decide this month whether to move forward with a recommendation to fund a two-lane expansion of the highway between I-25 and Kipling with a toll on the two new lanes.

The coalition, which formed in 2011 and includes Jeffco, has been trying to decide on the best funding model to finance the expansion of the 26-mile highway. The Colorado Department of Transportation has identified the beltway as having significant rush-hour traffic congestion. 

The coalition is considering financing the estimated $200 million expansion of the 12-mile stretch from I-25 to Kipling by placing a 31-cent-per-mile toll on the new lanes. The total trip in the new express lanes would cost $3.65 one way.

The goal is to expand C-470 to eight lanes to meet the traffic needs of 2035, said Kevin French, Jeffco’s director of transportation and engineering. The entire project — expanding the 12-mile stretch to eight lanes — would cost about $350 million. The cost for expanding to six lanes is $200 million.

The coalition’s technical working group conducted a public survey of residents along the C-470 corridor about the expansion and possible funding models. Three options were presented: tolling the two new lanes; tolling all lanes of C-470 at a much lower toll than the first option; or seeking either an increase in sales or property tax in the counties along the corridor. 

The survey found that residents preferred a new tax to pay for the new lanes, something French said would take longer than the first option and might not be politically feasible. 

“(A special tax) is very likely going to require voter approval, either by the individual entities along the corridor or overall. That process will take a while,” French said.

Besides resulting in an estimated three- to four-year delay in the project, French said, he didn’t think getting voter approval for a tax would be politically feasible. 

While a majority of those surveyed favored a tax increase over tolling lanes, when the numbers were broken down county by county, only Jeffco and Douglas County had majorities favoring a tax increase. Residents in Arapahoe County preferred the idea of paying for the expansion through tolls. 

That could create a situation where a tax could pass in two counties but be rejected in a third, putting the funding of the expansion into doubt, French said. 

The policy committee for the coalition will decide on Thursday whether or not to move forward with the proposed solution. Jeffco Commissioner Don Rosier sits on the policy committee for the coalition. 

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.