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CDOT and RTD Break Ground on US 36 Express Lanes Project

July 27, 2012 - Denver Metro Colorado/CDOT Region 6 - “MAKING CHANGE” -- 60-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF US 36 BRINGS INNOVATIONS TO AGING HIGHWAY

DENVER – This week, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Regional Transportation District (RTD), in partnership with local governments along the corridor, began construction of the $317 million multi-modal project along US 36. CDOT’s largest current construction project will reconstruct and widen 10 miles of US 36 between Federal Boulevard and 88th Street in Louisville/Superior to accommodate one High Occupancy Vehicle/tolled Express Lane in each direction. The new lane will provide for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which will use the improved infrastructure to provide faster, more reliable service, as well as other improvements along the corridor, ultimately to provide additional options for commuters.

“This project leveraged federal, state and RTD funds as well strong partnerships to make it a reality and is a model for future transportation projects as it’s an example of how governments at all levels should collaborate for the good of the public,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “When this project is complete, we will have an improved transportation system that will benefit this economically-diverse corridor as well as the thousands of motorists who utilize US 36 on a regular basis.”

US 36 opened to the public 60 years ago in 1952 and the highway now carries between 80,000 and 124,000 vehicles a day. As a result of these improvements, the corridor will evolve into a 21st Century transportation system.  In addition to the Express Lane that will accommodate HOVs, BRT and tolled Single Occupancy Vehicles, the project will replace several bridges, build a commuter bikeway and add BRT improvements. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) for tolling, transit, traveler information, and incident management will also be installed to help alert motorists of lane closures due to accidents or construction so that they can make informed travel decisions.

“The innovations being employed on this project are a first for Colorado,” said Don Hunt, CDOT executive director. “We are excited about the future of the US 36 corridor and what these improvements will mean for those who live and work along the highway as well as for the occasional travelers. More transportation options mean less time sitting in traffic.”

From the funding of the project to the project elements, the US 36 Express Lanes project has many innovative features, including:

  • Leveraging local and federal monies to fund the $312 million project, including a $54 million Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan and a $10 million TIGER Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Implementing the first bus-on-shoulder program in the state to provide for more reliable bus travel. The program allows buses to drive on the right shoulder of US 36 if the speed of the general purpose lanes slows below 35 mph.
  • Constructing the first buffer-separated Express Lane in Colorado, where the Express Lane is separated from the general traffic lanes by a four-foot striped buffer rather than a solid barrier.  Similar to the I-25 Express Lanes between downtown Denver and US 36, the US 36 Express Lanes will allow for vehicles with multiple occupants to travel for free while solo drivers can pay a toll or use the general travel lanes for free. The toll collection will be electronic or by license plate tolling if a transponder is not used.
  • Installing an Active Traffic Management System on the highway to display relevant traveler notices such as travel speed and lane closures. These overhead lane usage and electronic message signs will alert motorists of accidents and communicate travel times.

The multi-modal facet of the project is also an innovation. The project will provide multiple travel choices to users whether they choose to drive alone, carpool, bike or take BRT.

“RTD is proud to be a part of this project and excited to bring BRT as a new class of service to commuters along US 36,” said Lee Kemp, RTD Board Chair.

The Ames Granite Joint Venture team is the design-build contractor for the project, which will open to the public in January 2015.  CDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and RTD are funding the $312 million project:

  • RTD- $120 million
  • TIFIA Loan $54 million
  • Colorado Bridge Enterprise- $46 million
  • Denver Regional Council of Governments- $44 million
  • CDOT federal and state funds- $38 million
  • TIGER Grant- $10 million

For more information about the project, go to www.us36expresslanes.com. To receive free email updates during the project, click on the cell phone icon on the right. You can then subscribe to a variety of lists including “US 36 Express Lanes Project.” For current project information for your mobile phone, go to http://m.us36expresslanes.com.

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Construction Update: On Sunday, July 22nd, crews began installing barrier along US 36 starting near Federal Boulevard moving west. The purpose of the barrier is to allow for the construction of temporary pavement, which will eventually allow crews to realign traffic to the north and begin the widening and reconstruction of the eastbound lanes. Barrier placement and construction of the temporary pavement as well as bridge widening and replacement will continue through December 2012.  During construction of the entire project, two lanes of US 36 will remain open during peak hours; however, traffic may be in a temporary alignment and the lanes will be reduced to 11-feet.  Lane closures for bridge work and other major activities will occur in the overnight hours.

What Our Partners are Saying About the Project:

“The US 36 Express Lanes Project will give our residents and workers the opportunity for a speedy bus ride, a safe bike commute, and the opportunity to buy back time to spend with family and the community,” said Broomfield Mayor Pat Quinn.

“The project not only rebuilds an aging, Eisenhower-era highway, it converts it into a corridor with real travel choice, ranging from Bus Rapid Transit to carpooling to paying into the lanes as a single occupant car and even through a bikeway that connects to all of our US 36 communities,” said Boulder City Councilmember Suzy Ageton. “However, to fully achieve this multi-modal vision, we need to see it through to Phase II, so that the improvements span the distance from Westminster to Boulder.”