Draw on the strengths of complementary relationships between the public and private sectors for successful implementation of ITS projects.

The E-470 Public Highway Authority’s experience in forging public-private partnerships for design, construction, operations, and maintenance of an electronic toll highway facility.

August 2006
Aurora,Colorado,United States

Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

There are many advantages to pursuing the design and construction of a facility with a public-private partnership agreement. Some of these advantages include cost savings, risk sharing, revenue growth, and efficient implementation. E-470 Public Highway Authority draws on the strengths of both the public and private sectors to establish complementary relationships that benefit the traveling public. The operations of E-470 have yielded the following successful programs:
  • Leverage the use of transponders to provide volume, speed, and travel time data for the traveling public. E-470 entered into an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) allowing CDOT to obtain travel time data from the E-470 detection system and display such data on CDOT’s variable message signs (VMS). E-470 has a detection system that measures vehicle speed and classification (number of axles) using transponders, antennas, and inductive loops. CDOT installed several additional antennas along the corridor to collect the data from the transponders to obtain travel time information which is then displayed on the VMS during peak periods. Although most of the time there is no congestion on E-470, the partnership with CDOT facilitates sharing of information and keeps the public informed about travel conditions. Among other benefits, the information gives drivers an idea of the time it will take to travel to and from the airport. This relationship offers a significant return on investment; CDOT is able to collect travel time data for the cost of a few antennas. They also disseminate level of congestion data via the web at www.cotrip.org.
  • Negotiate with outside businesses such as insurance companies to underwrite a portion of the safety service patrol. E-470 also contracts for Safety Patrol services. As another innovative funding initiative, they negotiated an arrangement with State Farm Insurance to underwrite a portion of the service patrol costs in exchange for advertising on the patrol vehicles. The service is now called the State Farm Safety Patrol. This is another example of the types of relationships the Authority can develop as a state enterprise that serves the public interest.
  • Utilize decision support systems to improve snow and ice control operations and provide better traveler information. Another good example of a successful E-470 program is their agreement with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder. Utilizing a decision support system developed by FHWA and NCAR, E-470 roadway maintenance staff can more accurately predict weather conditions and weather impacts on the roadway, allowing them to implement proactive snow and ice control strategies and provide improved traveler information. The proactive response strategies are tailored to their resources and needs, saving time and money. They have 12 environmental sensor stations, nine of which include pavement sensors that provide surface temperature and moisture content. Prior to their relationship with NCAR, the Authority worked with a private firm that provided weather-related information based on subscriber services. However, the information from the service was not route-specific and did not provide enough advance notice to support timely road treatment decisions.
The E-470 Public Highway Authority is a public-private partnership established to design, build, operate, and maintain the E-470 public toll highway. E-470 also provides EXpressToll electronic toll collection services for the Northwest Parkway Public Highway Authority and the Colorado Tolling Enterprise. The goals of E-470 include providing the highest level of safety, service, and mobility for the traveling public. Providing an efficient and responsible investment of resources helps them to meet these objectives. This lesson suggests that by operating under this type of arrangement the Authority can take advantage of innovative financing opportunities such as the agreement developed for safety patrol services. Partnership agreements such as the one E-470 developed with State Farm Insurance helps achieve major ITS goals that include improving safety, productivity, mobility, and customer satisfaction. The Authority draws on the strengths of both public and private entities to develop complementary relationships that contribute to the deployment of a successful ITS project.

Lesson Comments

"Utilize VMS and static motorist service signs for public service announcements and advertising to generate revenue to offset operations and maintenance costs. Another program that E-470 benefits from is the use of VMS and static motorist service signs for local advertising and public service announcements. The Authority can do this because it is not affiliated with the Colorado Department of Transportation and does not receive federal funds in any way. They use these signs to generate revenue to offset some of the operations and maintenance costs. Most of their advertising is for larger businesses, developers, hospitals, etc., that are within close proximity to E-470. The 2006 Denver Parade of Homes is an example of a private business advertising of an event on an E-470 VMS. The Parade of Homes advertisement acknowledged a special event and directed drivers to the appropriate exit alleviating a possible safety problem and improving mobility through that portion of the corridor. As a result, the advertising served a dual purpose by creating positive guidance for drivers while generating revenue for E-470."

Analyst Response (03/29/2007):
"The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has issued a memorandum on “Safety Issues Related to Use of Acknowledgement and Advertising Signs on Toll Facilities,” dated February 28, 2007. The memorandum has noted that the FHWA's policy on the use of acknowledgement signs, titled Optional Use of Acknowledgement Signs on Highway Rights of Way, and issued August 10, 2005 (see link towards the end of the full memorandum), provides the specific applications for acknowledgement signs. The Policy also distinguishes the use of acknowledgement signs from advertising signs, and makes clear that the safe and orderly movement of traffic cannot be compromised with the use of these signs. The full memorandum is available at: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/policy/
" Firoz Kabir

Comment on this Lesson

To comment on this lesson, fill in the information below and click on submit. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field. Your name and email address, if provided, will not be posted, but are to contact you, if needed to clarify your comments.


Interview with Dave Kristick, Director of Operations, E-470 Public Highway Authority

Author: Cheryl Lowrance, based on interview notes

Published By: Noblis, Washington, DC

Source Date: August 2006

Lesson Contacts

Agency Contact(s):

Dave Kristick
E-470 Public Highway Authority
(303) 537-3702

Lesson Analyst:

Cheryl Lowrance


Average User Rating

0 ( ratings)

Rate this Lesson

(click stars to rate)


Lesson of the Month for November, 2006 !




United States


electronic toll collection, ETC, smart tags, EZ Pass, E-Z Pass, EZPass, DMS, CMS, VMS, Changeable Message Signs, Variable Message Signs, freeway service patrol, courtesy patrols, highway helpers, freeway service patrols

Lesson ID: 2006-00307