The Colorado Department of Transportation thinks adding a tolled express lane in each direction on C-470 between Interstate 25 and Wadsworth Boulevard is the right solution to traffic congestion.
CDOT presented possible funding options for the project Aug. 19 during one of several town hall meetings scheduled over the next month. The tolls would cover a large chunk of the project’s $230 million price tag, said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.
“We no longer can simply build our way out of congestion,” Ford said. “The concept that CDOT is embracing is express lanes. Express lanes and how we add that capacity is done for two reasons. One is, it manages congestion and growth in the future. The other piece that tolled lanes provide is some revenue to offset operations and maintenance.”
Along with adding capacity, the project would rebuild the bridges over the South Platte River, add improvements to ramps, and add water-quality features and noise barriers. The goal is to start work in 2016 and have construction last between 18 months and two years.
The project has secured $102 million from state, federal and local funds, including from Douglas County and Lone Tree. Jeffco, a member of the C-470 Coalition that’s been trying to find solutions for traffic congestion on the highway, isn’t contributing to this project.
While CDOT is applying for more grants, the tolls are projected to generate $103 million, which CDOT can use as collateral to issue bonds to finance the project.
“We can take the revenue we’re going to be able to generate and we believe we can bond against that for construction, through maybe a 35-year term,” Ford said.
CDOT recently has entered into public-private partnerships to fund other road projects. Yet unlike the expansion of U.S. 36, estimated at more than $500 million, and a possible expansion of I-70 near Denver International Airport, which projections have put at $1 billion, Ford said the size and scope of the C-470 project haven’t drawn interest from private investors.
Ford said the new lanes would be managed so that tolls would vary depending on the time of day and the level of traffic in the corridor.
“If the tolls are too high, no one will drive it. If the tolls are too low, then it won’t relieve congestion,” Ford said. “There’s sensors that you can dynamically change pricing as you adjust to flows. It’s a very dynamic environment that’s been designed to encourage choice and enhance use and balance it all.”
CDOT telephone town halls and meetings
Telephone town halls
• Sept. 9, 7 to 8 p.m.; outreach focus area: Jefferson County and Lakewood.
• Sept. 10, 7 to 8 p.m.; outreach focus area: Arapahoe County, Centennial and Littleton.
• Sept. 11, 7 to 8 p.m.; outreach focus area: Douglas County, Lone Tree and Highlands Ranch
• Sept. 15, 6 to 8 p.m., at the Ken-Caryl Ranch House.
• Sept. 18, 6 to 8 p.m., at Homestead Elementary School in Englewood.