Survey: Most residents oppose C-470 toll lanes

May 12, 2006

A majority of residents in the suburbs along C-470 oppose adding toll lanes to the congested highway, a poll by Douglas County, Colo., found.

Douglas County wants the state to conduct a full-blown environmental study of the plan, arguing that tolling cannot be justified by the level of study the state has done, the Rocky Mountain News reported.

The county's poll, conducted by the National Research Center in Boulder, Colo., found 64% of residents in Arapahoe, Douglas and Jefferson counties oppose toll lanes. It interviewed 400 residents and the survey has a margin of error of 5 percentage points, according to the newspaper.

The results contrast a poll that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) conducted two years ago that found that 67% of C-470 drivers supported express toll lanes. CDOT interviewed nearly 2,000 commuters and residents back then.

According to Tom Norton, CDOT executive director, some of the questions in the county poll were intended to obtain a negative response.

"I find it interesting that the polling we did is exactly the opposite," Norton said. "It seemed to me there was an awful lot of leading questions in their poll."

Two questions in particular asked people whether they would support or oppose toll lanes if they knew they would increase congestion or decrease safety, Rocky Mountain News reported.

In those cases, opposition went up to 73% and 72%, respectively.

Douglas County's position is that putting four toll lanes--two in each direction--in the center of C-470 would make congestion permanent in the remaining four free lanes, the newspaper reported. That is because without congestion, drivers will not be enticed onto the toll lanes.

The environmental assessment done by CDOT is currently in draft, and the state expects to receive a decision from the Federal Highway Administration about whether the lanes can be built this year.