E-470 widening set to begin as tollway bucks Colo. highway trend

A three-year widening project that begins next week on E-470 in northeast metro Denver will add a third travel lane in each direction along an 11-mile stretch of the tollway.

The $350 million project will start at Interstate 70, near Denver International Airport, and work north toward East 104th Avenue while also adding or revamping several interchanges, according to a news release. Intermittent single-lane closures are possible during the project, which is expected to wrap up in 2025.

It’s the latest expansion project for the self-funding E-470 Public Highway Authority, which has widened the tollway south of I-70 in recent years. Its aggressive expansion approach stands in contrast to pending removals of some highway and road expansions from state and regional plans as the Colorado Department of Transportation and a metro planning organization comply with new greenhouse gas reduction targets.

E-470’s project includes the addition of new exits at 38th and 48th avenues, close to fast-growing neighborhoods in Aurora and far-northeast Denver, and an expansion of the 64th Avenue interchange. A northbound collector road, which separates through traffic from entering and exiting vehicles at an interchange, will be added at Peña Boulevard, mirroring the existing southbound setup there.

The project also will build a new four-mile section of the High Plains Trail between 26th and 64th avenues. But for now, that segment won’t connect to the rest of the nearly 13-mile trail, which runs south along E-470 starting at Stephen D. Hogan Parkway in Aurora.

Spokeswoman Heather Burke said the E-470 authority is working with Arapahoe County and the city of Aurora to bridge that gap — and I-70.

She said the overall project will be covered by toll revenue collected along the 47-mile highway, the first segment of which opened in 1991. Last year, the authority reported collecting $218.5 million, down from a historic high of $249 million in 2019, before the pandemic.

The tollway authority is controlled by three counties — Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas — and five cities — Aurora, Brighton, Commerce City, Parker and Thornton — along the route.

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