DALLAS The Colorado Department of Transportation is preparing to add a 12-mile tolled lane on Interstate 70 west of Denver to reduce peak travel times through the mountain corridor, officials said.
The $34 million project is part of the state’s $646 million Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program for highways statewide.
Engineers would create the tolled lane from an existing shoulder of the interstate that motorists sometimes use to bypass congestion, said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.
The toll rate would be adjusted for degrees of congestion, according to current plans.
“We’re just about to begin the public process of discussing how this would work,” Ford said. “It would likely be congestion priced, so that piece of it is part of the public outreach that we’re beginning.”
The third, tolled lane on the eastbound section of I-70 would pass through a tunnel in Idaho Springs that is being widened at an estimated cost of $106 million.
“This could reduce travel times by about 48%,” Ford said.
The work of widening the tunnel, which began in May, is nearly complete, Ford said. The toll lane itself is to open in 2015.
The tolled lane and the tunnel are the first of several projects designed to improve traffic flow and safety along the I-70 mountain corridor.
The long-range costs of the corridor improvements, as currently envisioned, are projected to fall somewhere between $15 billion to $20 billion.
CDOT is trying to identify funding sources for the future projects, including the possibility of tolling, public-private partnerships and combinations of state and federal revenues.
Colorado carries an issuer credit rating of AA from Standard & Poor’s and Aa1 from Moody’s Investors Service with stable outlooks. Fitch Ratings does not rate the state.