Thursday, February 20, 2014


Posted: 02/20/2014 Last Updated: 8 hours ago
DENVER - A second vote is scheduled for Thursday on the U.S. Highway 36 public private partnership to extend toll lanes on the highway.

Wednesday, CDOT's High Performance Transportation Enterprise Board unanimously agreed to move forward with the contract. The board approved resolutions addressing the U.S. 36 concession financial close documentation, the bond documents and TIFIA Phase 1 documents.

Thursday, the Colorado Transportation Commission is expected to approve the concessionaire agreement.

-- Some opponents escorted out of meeting

Some public comment was allowed at Wednesday's meeting, but those who voiced their opinions against the measure were pulled out of the meeting as a result.

Troopers physically removed people even though the individuals were not being confrontational, witnesses said. The board said they were not following the agenda schedule.

Cliff Smedley was one of the meeting attendees escorted out.

"I am quite disappointed. I served 9 years in the National Guard to uphold freedom and democracy and rule of law. And I feel like that was just trashed in that meeting today," said Smedley. "CDOT did not seem to want to hear the voice of the people. Instead I was dragged out and thrown out the back door of CDOT headquarters."

-- U.S. 36 project history

The US 36 project began in 2003 with an Environmental Impact Statement process that included intense and lengthy participation from local governments and incorporated hundreds of public comments from numerous public meetings.

The US 36 Express Lanes Project -- a new express lane for bus rapid transit, carpool vehicles and tolled vehicles, as well as the reconstruction of existing general purpose lanes and the rebuilding of many aging bridges and a bikeway -- is the result of that process.

Phase I of the US 36 project is currently under construction and will be opened by spring 2015. CDOT says phase II of the project will be executed through the public private partnership with Plenary Roads Denver, which was chosen in April as the concessionaire for the project after a two-phase competitive big process.

CDOT signed a contract with Plenary in June and will close with the company at the end of the month.

CDOT said it is leasing U.S. 36 because it can't afford to do the reconstruction itself. The toll lanes will be operated by Plenary. Once the company makes its money back from the construction, CDOT will start to collect 50 percent of the toll revenue.

As 7NEWS first reported in April, the toll lanes will be changing and no longer be free unless you have three or more occupants in the vehicle. That change will affect all state toll roads by 2017.
As part of the contract, Plenary will also provide the maintenance and snow removal on all of U.S. 36. To do the maintenance, CDOT will pay Plenary $675,000 each year. To provide snow and ice removal on the entire highway, CDOT will pay up to $458,000 each year.

CDOT can also penalize Plenary for not completing maintenance or providing proper snow and ice removal.

See the contract here:

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