(1)(a) The department of transportation and local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their respective jurisdictions, may designate exclusive or preferential lanes for vehicles that carry a specified number of persons. The occupancy level of vehicles and the time of day when lane usage is restricted to high occupancy vehicles, if applicable, shall be designated by official traffic control devices.
(b)(I) On or before July 1, 2001, the department shall issue a request for proposals to private entities for the purpose of entering into a contract with such an entity for the conversion of an existing high occupancy vehicle lane described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (1) to a high occupancy toll lane and for the purpose of entering into a contract for the operation of the high occupancy toll lane by a private entity; except that the department may convert or operate the high occupancy toll lane, or both, in the event that no proposal by a private entity for such conversion or operation, or both, is acceptable.
(II) The high occupancy toll lane shall be a lane for use by vehicles carrying less than the specified number of persons for such high occupancy vehicle lane that pay a specified toll or fee.
(III) Any contract entered into between the department and a private entity pursuant to subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (b) shall:
(A) Authorize the private entity to impose tolls for use of the high occupancy toll lane;
(B) Require that over the term of such contract only toll revenues be applied to payment of the private entity's capital outlay costs for the project, the costs associated with operations, toll collection, administration of the high occupancy toll lane, if any, and a reasonable return on investment to the private entity, as evidenced by and consistent with the returns on investment to private entities on similar public and private projects;
(C) Require that any excess toll revenue either be applied to any indebtedness incurred by the private entity with respect to the project or be paid into the state highway fund created pursuant to section 43-1-219, C.R.S ., for exclusive use in the corridor where the high occupancy toll lane is located including for maintenance and enforcement purposes in the high occupancy toll lane and for other traffic congestion relieving options including transit. Such contract shall define or provide a method for calculating excess toll revenues and shall specify the amount of indebtedness that the private entity may incur and apply excess toll revenues to before such revenues must be paid into the state highway fund. It is not the intent of the general assembly that the conversion of a high occupancy vehicle lane to a high occupancy toll lane shall detract in any way from the possible provision of mass transit options by the regional transportation district or any other agency in the corridor where the high occupancy toll lane is located.
(IV) The department shall structure a variable toll or fee to ensure a level of service C and unrestricted access to the lanes at all times by eligible vehicles, including buses, carpools, and EPA certified low-emitting vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating over ten thousand pounds.
(V) The department shall not enter into a contract for the conversion of a high occupancy vehicle lane to a high occupancy toll lane if such a conversion will result in the loss or refund of federal funds payable, available, or paid to the state for construction, reconstruction, repairs, improvement, planning, supervision, and maintenance of the state highway system and other public highways.
(VI) The department shall require the private entity entering into a contract pursuant to this section to provide such performance bond or other surety for the project as the department may reasonably require.
(c) Whenever practicable, a high occupancy toll lane described in paragraph (b) of this subsection (1) shall be physically separated from the other lanes of a street or highway so as to minimize the interference between traffic in the designated lanes and traffic in the other lanes.
(d) The department shall develop and adopt functional specifications and standards for an automatic vehicle identification system for use on high occupancy vehicle lanes, high occupancy toll lanes, any public highway constructed and operated under the provisions of part 5 of article 4 of title 43, C.R.S., and any other street or highway where tolls or charges are imposed for the privilege of traveling upon such street or highway. The specifications and standards shall ensure that:
(I) Automatic vehicle identification systems utilized by the state, municipality, or other entity having jurisdiction over the street or highway are compatible with one another;
(II) A vehicle owner shall not be required to purchase or install more than one device to use on all toll facilities;
(III) Toll facility operators have the ability to select from different manufacturers and vendors of automatic vehicle identification systems; and
(IV) There is compatibility between any automatic vehicle identification system in operation on August 4, 1999, and any automatic vehicle identification system designed and installed on and after said date; except that the operator of an automatic vehicle identification system in operation on August 4, 1999, may replace such system with a different system that is not compatible with the system in operation on August 4, 1999, subject to the approval of the department. After the department approves such replacement, the specifications and standards developed pursuant to this paragraph (d) shall be amended to require compatibility with the replacement system.
(2) A motorcycle may be operated upon high occupancy vehicle lanes pursuant to section 163 of Public Law 97-424 or upon high occupancy toll lanes, unless prohibited by official traffic control devices.
(2.5)(a)(I) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (d) of this subsection (2.5), a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of twenty-six thousand pounds or less that is either an inherently low-emission vehicle or a hybrid vehicle may be operated upon high occupancy vehicle lanes without regard to the number of persons in the vehicle and without payment of a special toll or fee. The exemption relating to hybrid vehicles shall apply only if such exemption does not affect the receipt of federal funds and does not violate any federal laws or regulations.
(II) As used in this subsection (2.5), “inherently low-emission vehicle” or “ILEV” means:
(A) A light-duty vehicle or light-duty truck, regardless of whether such vehicle or truck is part of a motor vehicle fleet, that has been certified by the federal environmental protection agency as conforming to the ILEV guidelines, procedures, and standards as published in the federal register at 58 FR 11888 (March 1, 1993) and 59 FR 50042 (September 30, 1994) , as amended from time to time; and
(B) A heavy-duty vehicle powered by an engine that has been certified as set forth in sub-subparagraph (A) of this subparagraph (II).
(III) As used in this subsection (2.5), “hybrid vehicle” means a motor vehicle with a hybrid propulsion system that uses an alternative fuel by operating on both an alternative fuel, including electricity, and a traditional fuel.
(b) No person shall operate a vehicle upon a high occupancy vehicle lane pursuant to this subsection (2.5) unless the vehicle:
(I) Meets all applicable federal emission standards set forth in 40 CFR sec. 88.311-93 , as amended from time to time, or, subject to subparagraph (I) of paragraph (a) of this subsection (2.5), is a hybrid vehicle; and
(II) Is identified by means of a circular sticker or decal at least four inches in diameter, made of bright orange reflective material, and affixed either to the windshield, to the front of the side-view mirror on the driver's side, or to the front bumper of the vehicle. Said sticker or decal shall be approved by the Colorado department of transportation.
(c) The department of transportation and local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their respective jurisdictions, shall provide information via official traffic control devices to indicate that ILEVs and, subject to subparagraph (I) of paragraph (a) of this subsection (2.5), hybrid vehicles may be operated upon high occupancy vehicle lanes pursuant to this section. Such information may, but need not, be added to existing printed signs, but as existing printed signs related to high occupancy vehicle lane use are replaced or new ones are erected, such information shall be added. In addition, whenever existing electronic signs are capable of being reprogrammed to carry such information, they shall be so reprogrammed by September 1, 2003.
(d)(I) In consultation with the regional transportation district, the department of transportation and local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their respective jurisdictions, shall, in connection with their periodic level-of-service evaluation of high occupancy vehicle lanes, perform a level-of-service evaluation of the use of high occupancy vehicle lanes by ILEVs and hybrid vehicles. If the use of high occupancy vehicle lanes by ILEVs or hybrid vehicles is determined to cause a significant decrease in the level of service for other bona fide users of such lanes, then the department of transportation or a local authority may restrict or eliminate use of such lanes by ILEVs or hybrid vehicles.
(II) If the United States secretary of transportation makes a formal determination that, by giving effect to paragraph (a) of this subsection (2.5) on a particular highway or lane, the state of Colorado would disqualify itself from receiving federal highway funds the state would otherwise qualify to receive or would be required to refund federal transportation grant funds it has already received, then said paragraph (a) shall not be effective as to such highway or lane.
(3)(a) Any person who uses a high occupancy vehicle lane in violation of restrictions imposed by the department of transportation or local authorities commits a class A traffic infraction.
(b) Any person convicted of a third or subsequent offense of paragraph (a) of this subsection (3) committed within a twelve-month period shall be subject to an increased penalty pursuant to section 42-4-1701(4)(a)(I)(K) .
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