Paula from Commerce City writes, “What's driving you crazy? I'm questioning the thick/solid white lines that you are not to cross over. They're those white solid lines on E-470 before getting to what was a toll booth. The toll booths have been gone for a while now, but the lines remain. Are we able to cross over the lines since the tolls are gone, OR does the rule stand no matter what the situation? The lines were used to separate license plate payments and from cash paying customers, or need change customers, obviously, those lanes are not needed.”
It was July 3, 2009, Paula, that the last person worked inside a toll booth as a toll collector for E-470. The next day, Independence Day, the toll booths closed for good in favor of nonstop tolling using a transponder or using the new license plate reader. When the toll booth option was available, drivers could exit from mainline E-470, well before the solid white lines so they could stop at a toll collector. That is not an option today. All drivers must pass through the automatic tolling equipment under the toll gantry area. It is there where you find the solid white lines.
There is a misconception that you aren’t allowed to cross those solid white lines. I’ll explain in a bit. The solid white lines at the tolling areas start about 1,000 feet before the structure where the tolling equipment is and continue for another 1,000 feet beyond that point. Heather Burke with E470 told me the white lines are there on the road surface and will remain painted on the tollway for safety purposes. She says they don’t want drivers to change lanes while they are driving in those toll gantry areas. The other reason to stay in your lane at the toll gantry area is so the tolling equipment can capture a picture of your vehicle license plate clearly. That picture is used for license plate tolling or, if necessary, to match the vehicle with the onboard transponder.
As for crossing over the solid white lines, contrary to popular belief, it is not illegal to cross a single, solid, white line. I covered this issue in a previous Driving You Crazy article. In that article I say, “It is legal, although 'discouraged,' to cross a single solid white line. It is illegal to cross double white lines on or off the interstates.” You find double white lines separating express lanes from mainline lanes on highways like I-25 north of Denver.
Josh Lewis with the Colorado State Patrol confirms that answer telling me, “No, you will not be stopped/cited for crossing any of those lines on E470 near the old toll plazas.”
But, as my late, great radio friend Reggie McDaniels used to say, “There is always a however in life.” The however here is that if a trooper watches a driver cross the solid white line unsafely, then the driver is subject to being pulled over and written a citation as they would be for any bad lane change. That includes the white lines under the toll gentry areas on E-470.
“We have seen an increase in lane violations causing fatal and injury crashes the past few years, so we are highly encouraging people to stick with the basics of driving and ‘stay in your lane,'” Lewis says.
So specifically, in regard to the part of your question where you ask, "Are we able to cross over the lines since the tolls are gone, OR does the rule stand no matter what the situation?” Since it is legal to cross a single white line, yes, you are allowed to cross over the solid white lines, however, E470 and the Colorado State Patrol would prefer that you stay in your lane.
Separate from the white line issue, what is happening to the old toll booth areas? They will be going through a transformation.
“Early next year, E-470 is anticipated to begin repurposing four toll plaza locations within Parker, Aurora, and Commerce City to provide people with new services and amenities along the roadway including: food and beverage options, fuel stations, real-time flight information, patio seating, and more,” Burke told me.
This process started three years ago after E-470 released a Request for Proposals to invite the private sector to commercially develop the four sites. According to an August 2019 news release, the public-private partnership would be implemented under a long-term ground lease agreement involving the land and existing buildings formerly used for cash toll collection. The pandemic shutdowns delayed the original timeline to redevelop the four former toll booth areas.
Here is a fun fact: It is true that there is a tunnel from the main building off the tollway to the toll booths. The toll booth attendants used those tunnels to get to and from the booths safely without having to cross E-470 at street-level. Even though E-470 collects tolls electronically, the tunnels are still used to this day by lane technicians to access toll technology beneath the roadway.
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