Skip to content

Project Profile: US 36 Express Lanes (Phase 1)

US 36 Express Lanes (Phase 1)

photo credit: Colorado DOT


Denver Metro Area, Colorado

Project Sponsor / Borrower

Colorado High Performance Transportation Enterprise  (HPTE)

Program Areas

Alternative Project DeliveryProject FinanceTolling and PricingValue CaptureTIFIA


Highway / Managed Lanes; Bus Rapid Transit


US 36 is a four-lane divided highway that connects Boulder, Coloradoto with I-25 and the City of Denver. The highway experienced significant congestion and had been targeted for improvements by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) since the late 1990s. The US 36 Express Lanes Phase 1 project is an initial 10-mile segment along the 16-mile corridor between the two cities. This $306 million project was delivered under a design-build contract and includes the following components:

  • One express, high occupancy toll (HOT) lane in each direction from Federal Boulevard to 88th Street in Louisville/Superior (approximately 10 miles) and reconstruction of the general purpose lanes
  • Replacement of the Wadsworth Parkway, Wadsworth Boulevard, Lowell Boulevard, and Sheridan Boulevard bridges and replacement of the US 36 bridge over the BNSF Railway
  • Bus rapid transit (BRT) accommodations at stations located on ramps and adjacent park-n-rides, and bus bypass ramps at several interchanges (new and more frequent bus service will be provided)
  • Bikeway along much of the corridor
  • Intelligent transportation system (ITS) equipment, including for tolling, transit information, and incident management
  • Improvement of Regional Transportation District (RTD) stations along the corridor

A second phase, which opened in January 2016, extends the HOT lanes five miles to Table Mesa/Foothills Parkway in Boulder. Phase 2 is being delivered as a design, build, finance, operate, and maintain public-private partnership. The private partner operates and provides routine maintenance and lifecycle maintenance on the Phase 1, Phase 2 and the existing I-25 Express Lanes under a 50-year agreement.


$312.4 million ($305.9 million of Eligible Project Costs)

Funding Sources

TIFIA loan - $54.0 million

CDOT federal/state grant - $41.4 million

CDOT Bridge Enterprise funds - $41.5 million

Regional federal funds (Denver Region Council of Governments) - $46.6 million

RTD sales tax revenue - $112.1 million

TIGER Grant* - $4.8 million

Local Funds - $5.5 million

Other - $6.5 million

*Net of TIFIA subsidy costs

Project Delivery / Contract Method


Project Partners

Design-builder - Ames Granite Joint Venture Team

  • Ames Construction Inc.
  • Granite Construction Company
  • HDR Engineering Inc.
  • Michael Baker Inc.
Project Advisors / Consultants

To the Borrower

  • Engineering Advisor - Jacobs Engineering Group
  • Financial Advisors - The PFM Group and Acacia Financial Group
  • P3 Advisor - KPMG, LLP
  • Traffic & Revenue Consultant - Wilbur Smith Associates
  • Bond Counsel - Kutak Rock, LLP
  • HPTE's Special TIFIA Counsel - Ballard Spahr, LLP
  • Financial Services - J.P. Morgan


  • TIFIA Legal Advisor - Hawkins Delafield & Wood, LLP
  • TIFIA Financial Advisor - Infrastructure Management Group, Inc.


Duration / Status

Construction began in July 2012. The project opened in July 2015.

TIFIA Credit Assistance

Direct Loan - $54.0 million

The initial security for the TIFIA Phase 1 loan was a gross pledge of toll revenues collected on the US 36 Express Lanes Phase 1. However, upon the assumption of the Phase 1 TIFIA loan by the Phase 2 concessionaire, the loan was integrated into the new Phase 2 credit structure and secured on parity with the Senior Lien private activity bonds (PABs) for Phase 2. The terms and conditions of the concessionaire's assumption of the Phase 1 TIFIA Loan are set forth in an Amended and Restated TIFIA Phase 1 Loan Agreement, which became effective on the assumption date. The interest rate and amortization profile of the TIFIA Phase 1 loan remains unchanged from that set forth in the existing Loan Agreement with HPTE.

TIFIA's security position for the Phase 1 TIFIA loan is strengthened by the change in lien position from a subordinated position to a senior lien position on par with the Senior Lien PABs, the expanded base of revenues pledged to repayment of the Phase 1 TIFIA Loan, which includes toll revenues from the I-25 Express Lanes as well as Phase 1 and 2 revenues, and the addition of a ramp-up reserve in the amount of $6 million.

The TIFIA Phase 1 loan was rated "BBB-" by Fitch Ratings.

Financial Status / Financial Performance

The TIFIA credit agreement was executed on September 1, 2011.

  • The US 36 Express Lanes provide connections to the existing I-25 Express Lanes that extend south from US 36 to downtown Denver and north to 120th Avenue, and add to a network of regional tollways.
  • The project combines several multimodal and ITS-based strategies to alleviate congestion along the corridor: managed (HOT) lanes, BRT, provision for a commuter bikeway, and various ITS and transportation demand management (TDM) strategies.
Related Links / Articles

Project Website

TIFIA Loan Agreement

Express Lanes Website


Scott Rees
Phase 1 & 2 Project Director
CDOT Region 1
Tel: (303) 404-6962

back to top