CDOT’s $487 million improvements to US 36 in Boulder has won national praise for its usage of technology and innovation to expedite traffic and increase safety.

US 36 Express Lanes Use Tech to Ease Traffic

Colorado drivers can pay their taxes with a little more confidence that they’re getting their money’s worth from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials awarded CDOT its grand prize for best use of technology and innovation among large projects costing $200 million or more. The association represents transportation departments in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

CDOT’s winning entry is its US 36 express lanes project in Boulder, which it created to make the roadway safer, reduce traffic jams and encourage more-consistent traffic flow.

The $487 million project reconstructed a length of US 36 from Federal Boulevard to Table Mesa Drive, adding express lanes in each direction, free regular lanes, and a commuter bikeway. It crowned that with bus transit improvements and intelligent systems for handling tolls, dispensing traveler information, and adjusting for auto accidents.

The department operates express lanes on I-25 downtown Denver, on US 36 between Denver and Boulder and I-70 between Idaho Springs and Empire. Click here to see more information about the express lanes and here to get an ExpressToll account and pass.

In response to the award, CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt said:

“We are thrilled to receive national recognition for the US 36 Express Lanes project which has greatly improved trip time reliability and the daily lives of commuters in the metro area. I am proud of our team and would like to thank all the communities and partners involved in delivering this project that improves the efficiency and safety of our transportation system.”

Award Determination Process

The association gives the awards with sponsorship from AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This year’s competition attracted 92 project nominations from transportation departments in 39 states and Washington D.C. It picked winning transportation projects in three categories: Quality of Life and Community Development; Best Use of Technology and Innovation; and Operations Excellence.

The association held four regional competitions and selected national winners from the regional leaders. An independent panel of transportation industry executives made the final selections.

Besides the kudos from its peers, CDOT won $10,000 the winner can use for charity or a transportation-related scholarship. CDOT officials haven’t announced how they will use the money.

Although the award is mostly an honorary distinction, it’s significant for a state agency that’s actively seeking and encouraging changes intended to get residents from Point A to Point B with more efficiency and safety.

Current CDOT Programs and Initiatives

In addition to the US 36 roadwork, CDOT has also begun thinking about new ways to increase road safety and handle congestion. Something under review is the idea of building “smart” highways with speed limits that change with the weather, daylight, and traffic. In addition, the department is pushing the idea of moving passengers across the state through a “Hyperloop” tube at 500 mph. The agency also paved the way for a private company to test a robotic beer truck that delivered cases of beer 120 miles down the road without a driver.

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