First phase of U.S. 36 express lanes in Colorado open

The first phase of the $307 million U.S. 36 Express Lanes project in Colorado recently opened.

When completed, the project will provide travelers between Denver and Boulder with a number of commuting alternatives, including a bike path, a fast lane for high-occupancy vehicles, an electronic toll system for single-occupant cars and bus rapid transit service.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) began the project in 2010 after receiving a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Act (TIGER) I Transportation Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) challenge grant. The funding allowed Colorado to request a $54 million credit assistance from TIFIA, which opened the door for additional funding and partnerships. 

"By providing more and safer transportation options, this project will help move Colorado beyond traffic," U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez said at the opening of the first phase. "The recipe for urban transportation improvements – innovative financing and cooperation at the federal, state and local levels – can be replicated across the country once a long-term transportation bill is in place."

The first phase, which spans 11 miles, was paid for with a $112 million contribution from Denver's Regional Transportation District.

"Projects that provide safe, convenient and efficient ways to get around by bus, bike, carpool or other options are the future," Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau said. "Kudos to Colorado for its creativity. They have invested wisely and built better ways for travelers to move between Boulder and Denver."

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