Colorado WINS is joining a group of Colorado State Senators in calling on the Colorado Department of Transportation to put the brakes on a pending 50-year contract for the US-36 toll road with an Australian company, the Plenary Group, and release information about the proposed deal to taxpayers before signing any contract.
Colorado WINS submitted an open records request, also known as a CORA, in 2013 and was refused access to any of the responses to CDOT’s Request for Proposal and any drafts of the contract.
“This is a huge undertaking with enormous financial impact on taxpayers for decades, and the process has been kept as far out of public view as possible,” said WINS Executive Director Tim Markham. “CDOT owes policy makers and the public some answers about this deal and shouldn’t be signing away 50 years of maintenance and revenue in secret. These so-called “public-private partnerships” have turned out to be terrible deals for taxpayers across the country, including Chicago and Orange County. Coloradans deserve to have their voices heard before CDOT acts.”
A group of 14 legislators are asking for a 60-day review period before the contract is signed with Plenary Group, which could be as soon as Monday. Their request to see a copy of the contract has been denied and, according to 9News, Sen. Matt Jones (D-Louisville) has been told that a copy of the full contract would become available after closing.
01.30.14 | 9News| Dems urge CDOT to hold off on ‘secret deal’
Last year, CDOT agreed to hire the private consortium Plenary Roads Denver to complete the second phase of work on US 36. The financial agreement with Plenary Roads is expected to be signed as soon as Monday.
In exchange for partially financing the work, Plenary Roads will be allowed to collect all tolls from motorists using pre-designed toll lanes in each direction of the highway. The contract, in essence, leases the highway to Plenary for the next 50 years. Plenary would be responsible for performing such tasks as pothole repair and snow removal during the 50-year period. The precise terms of the agreement, however, remain uncertain as the concessionaire contract with Plenary has yet to be released.
01.30.14 | Denver Post | 14 lawmakers ask to review 50-year U.S. 36 management contract
Last week, a green-energy advocacy group began a petition drive asking that lawmakers review the 50-year contract before it is signed. The contract probably won’t be ready for a few more days, CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said. CDOT is preparing a response to the lawmakers’ request.
“We want to have a discussion with them and look at the process and see what it might look like.”
CDOT officials say they will ensure that the pact with Plenary will be fair to local governments and motorists.