Littleton councilor calls for multiple toll lanes

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Littleton City Councilor Jim Taylor, a member of the C-470 Corridor Coalition Steering Committee that voted unanimously to toll any new lanes on the southern stretch of the highway, sent a memo to his fellow councilors calling for two toll lanes in each direction.

“In my personal opinion, adding two toll lanes in each direction now, rather than wait 15 years for the second lane, would be more cost-effective and cause less traffic disruption for those traveling on the highway,” he wrote. “Two high-speed lanes in each direction would go a long way in relieving the disruption that would be caused as a motorist maneuvers to merge into non-toll traffic in order to exit the highway.”

However, he expects the C-470 Corridor Coalition as a whole to support adding just one lane in each direction.

For the last several months, the coalition has been studying the feasibility of tolling versus taxing in order to relieve congestion on the highway. Survey results indicate public opinion is evenly divided among favoring tolls, property tax increases and sales tax increases, but it didn’t look likely that any tax increase would survive a vote of the people as required under state law.

“A number of respondents wanted either state or federal agencies to pay for the improvements, but representatives of both attend the meetings and have indicated that funding any improvements to the roadway, without some sort of state or federal tax increase, would not occur for more than 20 years,” writes Taylor. “With the metro-area population projected to grow by 1.4 million people in the next 20 years, doing nothing is not an option. Also, current CDOT policy suggests that all future capacity improvements will need to include some type of tolled express lanes.”

Littleton councilors unanimously agreed to authorize Taylor to support the tolling option, known as “Option A.” But the vote just narrowly passed the Highlands Ranch Metro District Board of Directors, 4-3, with some worried that not enough money would be raised through tolls to pay for the cost of construction.

Littleton and Highlands Ranch are just two of 19 public and private entities that make up the coalition.