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Goodbye, E-470 collectors: Toll road going cashless

Kevin Flynn
Rocky Mountain News
Ellen Jaskol/Rocky Mountain News A stretch of E-470 between 120th Avenue and U.S. 85 in Brighton in 2002.
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E-470 is going cashless.

Starting Jan. 1, drivers won’t need prepaid transponders or coins to use the 46-mile toll beltway on the eastern fringe of the metro area.

The E-470 board has approved a nonstop tolling plan under which drivers without prepaid accounts will be mailed bills instead of fines when they go under the high-speed toll plazas.

For six months, drivers without prepaid accounts can try out the nonstop tolling system or they can continue to pull over to the side and pay the toll collectors.

But on July 4, the toll booths will be closed permanently and nonstop tolling will be the only method used. The first six months will allow drivers to choose which method they prefer, said Dan Christopherson, spokesman for the E-470 Authority.

“It’s a significant change and a number of tolling authorities are moving in this direction,” Christopherson said.

The plan relies on E-470’s existing system of cameras that read license plates of every vehicle. Nothing changes for drivers who already have E-470’s prepaid EXpressToll transponders. They are in a pay-as-you-go plan.

But drivers without an account, who now must pull over at the toll plazas and pay with cash, will be able to stay in the 70-mph lanes and zip under the electronic toll collection plazas.

A bill will be mailed to the address where the vehicle is registered, Christopherson said. It remains to be decided how often a bill will be sent and whether any additional fees will be tacked on.

But drivers who do not pay the bills will be hit with a fine for toll evasion, currently $70.

“It makes it a lot more convenient for people because you don’t need to have exact change or an adequate amount of money with you,” Christopherson said.

The plan affects only the E-470 toll stations, and not the ones on Northwest Parkway or on CDOT’s I-25 Express Toll Lane. Drivers still will have a cash toll option at the plaza on Northwest Parkway, while CDOT fines solo drivers who don’t have a prepaid account on the I-25 toll lane.

There are five toll plazas on E-470’s mainline, along with unmanned coin booths at many of the entrance and exit ramps. About 114 people work in toll collection for the agency. They will be given opportunities to transfer to customer service jobs before the change takes place, Christopherson said.


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