Denver Highway Expands, Encouraging Driving Alternatives

Reader Contribution by Soli Salgado
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U.S. 36, the lone Colorado highway connecting Boulder to Denver, is undergoing construction to include a special fast lane for high-occupancy vehicles, bus rapid-transit service, an electronic toll system for single-occupant cars and a bike path. The renovation aims to add 40 feet of width to the roadway in each direction.

In 2005, the highway transportation research group ranked it No. 1 among the state’s “heartburn highways” due to its poor maintenance, congestion and accidents. John Schwab, the director of the lanes project for the Colorado Department of Transportation, told The New York Times, “There’s no alternate, parallel way to get to Denver. It’s a very important corridor for all of the residents.” Currently, 80,000 to 124,000 cars drive through U.S. 36 every day.

According to The Denver Post, the “revamped highway will also get a fiber-optic backbone designed to feed real-time data to electronic highway signs — informing motorists of accidents and delays — and to TV displays at the bus rapid transit stations along the corridor, letting commuters know when the next bus is due to arrive.” The New York Times says that while other states have plenty of these highway upgrades, such as bike lanes and high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, U.S. 36 is the first to incorporate all of these features.

The first phase costs $312 million and is financed with federal stimulus money, highway funds, and money from state and private sources. The second phase will include money from private investors, who will receive a share of the tolls until 2063. Construction, which began last July, is expected to be complete at the end of 2014.

Photo by NMint/Fotolia