Coloradans fuming over secret deal to privatize highway toll lanes

Vehicles travel north from San Diego to Los Angeles along Interstate Highway 5 in California December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Mike BlakeThe Daily Caller – by Greg Campbell

The Colorado Department of Transportation is under fire by both citizens and lawmakers for working a secret deal to privatize future toll lanes on one of Colorado’s busiest highways.

Department officials say the arrangement with Plenary Roads, an Australian-based business consortium, is secret and the details won’t be publicly disclosed until it’s finalized.  

The deal involves allowing the private entity to pay the cost of widening U.S. Highway 36 between Boulder and Denver and collect revenue from new toll lanes for 50 years. Officials say the state can barely maintain the busy highway as is, and that partnerships with private entities are necessary.

“In order to do projects like this, we have to find innovative ways of financing them,” state Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp told Denver’s 9News. “The public-private projects are one of the ways to do that.”

She added, however, that she was frustrated CDOT hasn’t responded to a request by 14 state lawmakers to review the contract.

The public isn’t very pleased about it, however, as 9News reported that the first public meeting on Wednesday — which CDOT managers admitted should have been initiated long ago — turned heated. The Daily Camera reported that the meeting “devolved into periodic bouts of jeering and heckling” by taxpayers who were incensed that they weren’t involved in the process of privatizing a main highway.

“I don’t want my tax money and corporate tax dollars going back to Australia for our roads, our infrastructure that we’ve sold out,” one woman said during the meeting.

But the first phase of the contract, which deals with the highway build-out, has already been signed. No elected state official has seen the full 600-page contract, only a summary. The deal is due to be finalized in the coming days. Transportation officials say it contains proprietary information about Plenary Roads and can’t be disclosed until its official.

A CDOT spokeswoman insisted it was a good deal for Colorado, considering that traffic congestion on U.S. 36 is projected to become “unbearable” without expensive infrastructure upgrades.

“What is the best deal for Colorado and what is the right approach to deliver a project?” spokeswoman Amy Ford is quoted as saying in the Daily Camera. “[This] allowed us to accelerate this project by 20 years.”

CDOT officials are meeting with state legislators Thursday, where they will be pressured to release the contract details.

Follow Greg on Twitter

Read more:

3 thoughts on “Coloradans fuming over secret deal to privatize highway toll lanes

  1. Apparent unlimited ability to print money and collect taxes and they still have to contract with a foreign corporation just to improve the most traveled and used, thus the most important, roads in an otherwise extremely rich area of the country. Sounds like even the liberal Boulderites are waking up though. I guess when it gets “in your face” criminal or ridiculous then even the libs wake up from their Obama neuro-lingustically programmed communist utopia. I bet the corporation is actually Chinese.

  2. “In order to do projects like this, we have to find innovative ways of financing them,” state Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp told Denver’s 9News. “The public-private projects are one of the ways to do that.”


    In Dallas, most of our highways are tolled and they are even thinking of charging for another highway.

    Hell, they even setup toll checkpoints at both ends of the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport area which means you have to pay $2.00 just to drop someone off at the airport or pick them up. It’s insane. There’s no other side road or entrance to the airport so there is no getting around it. Everyone bitched and tried to sue the city about it but the damn corporate assholes who control the airport say there is nothing they can do about it and the government said the same thing.

    So now, not only do we have TSA (which Texans tried to get rid of years ago but the lieutenant Governor gave into the Fed Government after they threatened to shoot our planes down if we didn’t have TSA) to deal with, but we are also being charged for entering and exiting the airport. Then when you ask the people at the toll booth why they are the only ones who charge, you get an Indian or a Mexican who can barely speak English who smirk with that evil grin on their face like a wise ass cop that you just want to beat the shit out of and he says, “Really? I didn’t know we were the only ones who charged? I know NYC does it and so does some others. Funny, I’ve been to NYC and they never charged. Only this damn airport. It’s bullshit and of course they use illegal immigrants in this position in order to further cause strife between Americans and the illegals and since they know that one cannot speak English, it further fuels the hatred and they know that the American people will just give up and say, “F**k it!” and pay the fee and move on, in which case they win and you lose. It’s the same tactic over and over again. It pisses me off! 😡

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *