More funds sought to pa­trol U.S. 36

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By John Aguilar

Speed­ing mo­torists and lane dodgers are con­tribut­ing to haz­ardous con­di­tions in the man­aged lanes on U.S. 36 be­tween Den­ver and Boul­der, prompt­ing the State Pa­trol to ask the leg­is­la­ture for more than $200,000 this com­ing year to beef up pa­trols along the heav­ily trav­eled cor­ri­dor.

“It’s for ad­di­tional troop­ers to target high­risk driver ac­tiv­i­ties, like speed­ing, left-lane changes and ag­gres­sive driv­ing,” State Pa­trol Maj. Steve Gar­cia said.

The State Pa­trol’s re­quest amounts to $216,087 in cash funds and two full­time po­si­tions to in­crease high­way pa­trols along U.S. 36, which opened as a newly ex­panded road this year af­ter sev­eral years of con­struc­tion. The high­way now has an ad­di­tional lane — which is tolled at a vari­able rate ac­cord­ing to traf­fic con­ges­tion — in each di­rec­tion.

Buses and high-oc­cu­pancy ve­hi­cles, which start­ing Jan. 1 will re­quire at least three oc­cu­pants rather than two, are able to use the ad­di­tional lane for free. There are still two gen­eral-pur­pose lanes in each di­rec­tion that are free for any­one to use.

Amy Ford, a spokes­woman for the Colorado Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, said a fair num­ber of ve­hi­cles move in and out of the man­aged lanes where they are not sup­posed to. There is no phys­i­cal bar­rier be­tween the toll lane and the gen­eral-pur­pose lanes on the high­way.

“The en­force­ment side could stand to be beefed up,” she said.

Gar­cia said the State Pa­trol’s fo­cus is on main­tain­ing safety along U.S. 36 rather than en­sur­ing that tolls are prop­erly col­lected by the pri­vate con­sor­tium that part­nered with CDOT to build and op­er­ate the high­way.

“We’re not toll en­forcers — we’re not rev­enue col­lec­tors,” he said. “What I’m fo­cused on is un­safe be­hav­ior.”

The State Pa­trol re­quested and re­ceived a sim­i­lar in­crease for pa­trolling along the E-470 high­way cor­ri­dor in fis­cal year 2016-17.

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