An Express Lanes project in Colorado has won the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) Project of the Year Award for demonstrating the high value and innovation that public-private partnerships (P3s) bring to transportation development in the USA.
ARTBA recognized the High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE), the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Plenary Roads Denver (PRD) as models of excellence in innovative transportation financing for the P3’s US 36 Express Lanes Project.
The HPTE operates as a government-owned, independent business within CDOT, which seeks out innovative ways to finance projects to help the state increase travel choices through options that include Express Lanes, transit, biking, walking and carpooling. Co-partner PRD is a Denver-based consortium of leading firms from each part of the infrastructure industry, established to efficiently deliver improvements to the US 36 corridor. The consortium is led by Plenary Group, an investor, developer and operator of public infrastructure projects in the USA, Canada and Australia.
The US 36 Express Lanes Project is a multi-modal P3 led by CDOT, HPTE, the Regional Transportation District (RTD) and PRD. The project was completed on the busy US 36 corridor between Denver and Boulder, and includes the successful build out of two free general-purpose lanes in each direction, one tolled Express Lane in each direction, and a bikeway along the US 36 corridor.
The project offers users the choice to ride the bus, carpool, bike, use the two free reconstructed general-purpose lanes, or pay a toll in the Express Lanes, which accommodate high occupancy vehicles (HOV), Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and tolled vehicles.
The delivery of the project was split into two phases. The US$318m first phase was procured as a design-build contract, which began initial construction work. The US$179m second phase was procured as a P3, with PRD as concessionaire to finance, design, build, operate and maintain Phase 2 construction work, assume TIFIA loan obligations, and operate and maintain Phase 1 work that was done. The lanes opened to traffic in January 2016 and tolls commenced in March for the second phase. The US 36 Express Lanes increase roadway capacity and the use of toll pricing during peak travel times reduces delays, manages congestion and maintains reliable travel times.
“CDOT and HPTE are committed to finding innovative ways to finance transportation projects, like P3s, and we are proud to receive this accolade by a national organization for our partnership with Plenary Roads Denver,” said HPTE director David Spector. “The US 36 Express Lanes Project will serve as a successful model for years to come on how to deliver multi-modal P3 projects.”
Dale Bonner, Plenary Group’s executive chairman, commented, “The US 36 Express Lanes Project is all about innovation in transportation financing, and serves as proof that regional collaboration can make this type of multi-modal project successful for project partners and the general public.”