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CDOT Defends What State Senator Calls ‘Secret’ Boulder Turnpike Deal

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DENVER (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Transportation is entering a 50 year contract with a private party, giving them control over the express lanes that will be built along Highway 36.

Money problems are what CDOT says drove them into contract with Plenary Roads Denver, a business conglomerate that will now pay for the Boulder Turnpike’s express lanes.

“We are essentially leasing it to a private partner to help us operate and maintain the lanes,” said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.

In return, Plenary will get toll revenue for those who don’t meet HOV requirements, said to be $4 to $6 each way.

Ford said it was the only way other than raising taxes to get the project finished by 2016.

“People get congestion relief now as opposed to waiting for 20 years,” said Ford.

State Sen. Mike Jones, a member of the transportation committee that oversees CDOT, said he doesn’t agree with the way things evolved.

“It’s a secret deal and it’s going to directly affect my constituents for 50 years,” said Jones.

Jones said the issue is the HOV requirement of having three people in the car and said the contract will affect any future legislation of express lanes.

“If we change anything and it affects their bottom line, their toll revenue, we have to compensate them for that,” said Jones.

He is one of 14 senators asking CDOT for 60 days to look over the contract to see if it makes sense for taxpayers.

However, CDOT said they’ve been working on this project with the public for more than a year and they will maintain caps for toll rates as well as ownership over the highway.

“If they don’t meet maintenance standards there are actually financial penalties,” said Ford.

CDOT will be explaining the contract and what it means for drivers in two public hearings.

“We wouldn’t be having this issue today if they had gone to the public and asked them about this a year ago,” said Jones.

The first public meeting will be at the City Park Recreation Center in Westminster at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday while the second is in Louisville on Thursday evening.

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