In Denver, soon after the conversion of HOV to HOT lanes on I-25/US-36, 10 to 15 percent of all daily person trips occurred in the HOT lanes, at full highway speeds, while those in the general-purpose lanes experienced stop-and-go congestion.

August 2008
Denver,Colorado,United States

Summary Information

This research synthesized evaluation findings from 24 projects sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Congestion and Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP) between 1991 and 2006. Strategies evaluated included:
  • High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) to High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane conversions with pricing
  • Variable pricing of new express lanes
  • Variable pricing on existing toll facilities
  • Region-wide variable pricing initiatives
  • Making driver costs variable
  • Other pricing projects (i.e., voluntary cash out and carshare programs).
This source report included an overall assessment of the impacts of value pricing and included detailed findings for several projects.


HOT Lanes on I-25/US-36 in Denver, Colorado

In Denver, the Downtown Express HOT lanes project included a two-lane barrier-separated reversible facility in the median of I-25 between downtown Denver and 70th Avenue (6.6 miles) and an additional section of US-36 (0.4 miles) that extended to Pecos Street. Toll rates were not dynamically set, but pre-scheduled to vary by time of day. Rates were posted on "static" signs in advance of the entrance to the HOT lanes and electronic tolling was administered at a single toll collection zone where "high occupancy vehicles" and "single occupancy vehicles" were required to separate into marked lanes to declare their eligibility. Buses were authorized to access either lane. The system utilized an ExpressToll transponder that was compatible with the existing tolling facilities on E-470 and the Northwest Parkway. Before the opening of the HOT lanes on I-25, Colorado had over 381,500 ExpressToll transponders in use. Structures with communications equipment constructed above the roadway were used to interact with in-vehicle transponder tags installed on vehicle windshields. Back-end technology was then used to assess tolls on user accounts. Vehicles traveling in HOT lanes without a transponder were identified with license plate photographs and mailed a fine of $70.

Planning, implementation, and construction occurred from 2001-2005. Operations and evaluation occurred from 2006-2010. The following findings were reported in Appendix B in the source report:
  • By September of 2007 (10 months from opening), approximately 95,000 total vehicles per month were paying to travel in the I-25 Express Lanes.
  • Preliminary results indicated that during peak periods 10 to 15 percent of all daily person trips in the Express Lanes were at full highway speeds while those in the adjacent general-purpose lanes experienced stop-and-go congestion.
  • Express bus service utilizing the HOT lanes was on-time 97 percent of the time in September 2007, alleviating concerns that tolled vehicles would degrade transit level of service.
  • HOT lane toll and HOV violations have increased since implementation, with increases in enforcement activities and stops by Colorado State Highway Patrol.

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Value Pricing Pilot Program:  Lessons Learned - Final Report

Author: Kiran Bhatt, Thomas Higgins, John T. Berg

Published By: FHWA

Source Date: August 2008

Other Reference Number: FHWA-HOP-08-023



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Goal Areas


Related Metropolitan Integration Links

Link 17: Electronic Toll Collection to Freeway Management

Typical Deployment Locations

Metropolitan Areas


electronic toll collection, ETC, smart tags, EZ Pass, E-Z Pass, EZPass

Benefit ID: 2010-00628