DENVER — Drivers will have to start paying to use the Central 70 express lanes Tuesday, a change brought about after months of using them for free.
The Colorado Department of Transportation originally expected to start charging drivers to use the ten-mile stretch of Interstate 70 between Interstate 25 to Chambers Road on February 28, but that policy got pushed back for months.
"A lot of it just had to do with us testing the lanes to make sure the equipment was working and getting ready for actual live tolling to begin," Tim Hoover, the communications integration lead for CDOT, said.
Drivers will now pay up to $4.50 during the busiest time of the day, which is during the morning rush hour between 6-8:59 a.m.
Cars without a pass will have to pay more than $10.
Prices are lower during other times of the day, and overhead signs will display the current toll prices. The evening commute is cheaper at $3.25 between 2-3:59 p.m. and $2.50 between 4-6:59 p.m.
If you don't have a transponder, it's still more expensive between $5-10. License plate fees will apply for drivers who do not have an ExpressToll pass.
The express lanes are free to motorcyclists, commercial transit, and carpoolers with three or more passengers with a switchable HOV transponder. Vehicles with four or more axles will have to pay a surcharge of $25.
The same ExpressToll passes that are used on CDOT's express lanes on U.S. 36, I-25, C-470, E-470, I-70 Mountain Corridor and Northwest Parkway, will work on the new Central 70 express lanes.
Qualifying residents in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods can get a free pass and toll credit through an equity program. You can find more information here.
The purpose of the express lanes is to ease traffic congestion. Drivers who can't or don't want to pay can use the adjacent general-purpose lanes for no additional cost.