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Emotional Debate As U.S. 36 Privatization Moves Closer To Done Deal

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DENVER (CBS4)- There were some tense moments amid emotional outbursts at the latest meeting to discuss the privatization and addition of a toll lane along the U.S. 36 corridor.

Three people had to be removed from the meeting about the controversial contract which is one step closer to becoming finalized.

There will be an added toll lane from Federal Blvd. to Table Mesa Drive in Boulder. It will be controlled by a third party. The toll lane is slated to open in 2016.

Although the Colorado Department of Transportation planned the meeting on Wednesday afternoon, and said they appreciated the input from the public, they are planning to go through with the deal.

The board unanimously voted to approve the financial close documentation at the meeting.

Before the final vote three people had to be removed from the meeting.

“We had some people choose to step in and speak out of turn,” said Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Amy Ford.

They were trying to combine their three-minute allotted speaking time which is against strict protocol.

“The people should have been able to vote on this!” said Colorado resident Joe Stepniak.

“All travelers along U.S. 36 will benefit,” said 36 Commuting Solutions Chairwoman Tracey Winship. “Some 10,000 riders everyday rely on RTD along U.S. 36 and that’s expected to double.”

Drivers, homeowners, even local mayors all voiced their praise and concerns over the 50-year contract agreement with the toll lanes.

“I’m here to ask for just a clear public input period right now,” said Colorado resident Danny Katz.

Concerns range from an alleged closed door deal to future toll rates that could go as high as $14 each direction. Some even question whether the private partnership was even needed.

Both CDOT and the board insist the deal has been discussed and available to the public for years. They also claim this option was the best outside a new tax and that any waiting would mean huge delays in construction.

“We need the completion of this project to move forward in a timely manner,” said Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison.

There will be one more vote on the issue but CDOT said this will be a done deal by next week.

CDOT released this statement: Plenary Roads Denver was chosen last April as the concessionaire for the project after a two-phase competitive big process, which also included consultation with local governments and covered by the media. CDOT is entering into this agreement to build much-needed improvements on a highway opened in 195 two decades sooner than the agency could otherwise afford.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: coloradodot.info\

U.S. 36 Express Lanes Fact Sheet

 

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