DALLAS – A government enterprise that is building toll lanes on the Colorado 470 highway south of Denver has closed on $161.7 million of revenue bonds and a $106.9 million loan from the federal government.

The revenue bonds were the first issued by the High Performance Transportation Enterprise, which officials described as a government-owned, independent business within the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Crews guide a girder to its correct position on an overpass for the Colorado 470 managed lanes project.
Crews guide a girder to its correct position on an overpass for the Colorado 470 managed lanes project. CDOT

The bonds and the federal loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act provide more than two-thirds of the $276 million needed for the project, officials said. Suburban Douglas County is contributing $10 million for construction. The remainder will be funded via loans repaid by toll revenues.

C-470, the southwestern portion of an outer loop around the Denver metro area, is one of the most congested corridors in the nation, officials said. While the original C-470 was built as a freeway, extensions such as E-470 that carries traffic to Denver International Airport were added as tollways.

The 12.5-mile expansion project will add express lanes and improve general purpose lanes between Interstate 25 and Wadsworth Boulevard to the west.

“We are excited to have sold the bonds at extremely favorable rates and terms, which shows the strength of this project,” said HPTE Director David Spector. “The demand far exceeded the supply, lowering true interest costs and resulting in more than $30 million in savings for the state of Colorado over the life of the bonds.”

HPTE was created as an alternative financing system for Colorado highways in the absence of state bonding authority for major projects. For the second year in a row, the Colorado General Assembly failed to pass a bill providing $3.5 billion of bond authority for transportation projects.

“We’re proud to help deliver projects like this that otherwise would not have enough funding,” Spector said.

The TIFIA loan, provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau, also provides attractive interest rates and repayment terms for the project, officials said.

HPTE is not required to repay the loan for 35 years after the project opens and interest payments do not begin until five years after the project is open. Also, the loan is subordinate to the bonds, and HPTE can prepay the loan at any time without a penalty.

“Protecting TIFIA funding for the C-470 project along with promoting other infrastructure investments across Colorado has been a top priority for me in the Senate,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.

Construction on the project began in fall 2016, using a design-build concept by winning bidder Flatiron/AECOM. Completion is expected in the spring of 2019.

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