Boulder Turnpike privatization backer refutes most (but not all) of critic's claims

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Photos and more below.
Earlier this week, we posted about criticism of the public-private Boulder Turnpike project from the Drive SunShine Institute, which hoped a lawsuit would stop final contracts from being signed. That seems unlikely, however. Last night, a Colorado Department of Transportation board unanimously voted to move forward with the pact, and the Colorado Transportation Commission is expected to add its blessing today. And a former Boulder official thinks that's a good thing for the most part.

"The privatization of U.S. 36 will present a large financial cost to Colorado taxpayers," DSI spokesman Ken Beitel told us for our Tuesday post. "Hundreds of millions of dollars in toll revenues on U.S. 36 will be drained out of Colorado to provide profits for Goldman Sachs and the Australian toll road developer the Plenary Group."

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Ken Beitel.
As we reported, Goldman Sachs is officially designated as the Colorado Department of Transportation's "financial adviser" on the project, while Plenary Roads Denver has agreed to pay approximately two-thirds of the cost for renovations to both the Boulder Turnpike and Interstate 25 in exchange for collecting all new tolls on U.S. 36 and the existing I-25 express lanes for fifty-year length of the contract, the most recent version of which we've shared below.

Beitel sees the agreement as a bad deal for a number of reasons. Among them, he claims that neighboring municipalities are forbidden from making road improvements without paying compensation to Plenary; that electric cars won't be able to use high-occupancy-vehicle lanes without a similar compensatory payment; and that a plan to start charging anyone using HOV lanes if their vehicles contain fewer than three people (up from two) will lead to greater pollution. Furthermore, he thinks suggestions that construction might have been delayed for twenty years without help from Plenary is "basically marketing propaganda."

Will Toor offers another take. Currently the director of the transportation program for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Toor is a former Boulder mayor and longtime city council member who worked on U.S. 36 planning issues from 1999 until he was term-limited out of office early last year. In his view, "this is generally a really good contract, even though there are what I would characterize as relatively minor concerns around it."

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Will Toor.
Chief among the latter is the question of electric cars in HOV lanes, which could indeed raise the question of compensation if the State of Colorado decided to let more of the vehicles commute without charge as a way of promoting their purchase.

"The contract uses the existing program under legislation passed a decade ago," Toor points out. As such, "there are 2,000 alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles that are allowed toll-free access to HOV lanes -- and the contract memorializes that number. And it also says it can be a compensation event if that number goes above 2,000.

"That's the one element of the contract that I agree is problematic," he goes on. "I am very involved in working on electric-vehicle policy and advocating that incentives be expanded beyond 2,000. And certainly, I would not want to see a clause of that sort in any future contracts."

In contrast, Toor sees other assertions made by Beitel in our post as either dubious or, in at least one case, flatly incorrect.

Continue for more about the Boulder Turnpike project, including photos and two documents.


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43 comments
RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Hack is pulling out all the stops in his organ of misgovernment during the last year of his term -- throw away the tax revenue from cannabis fighting against it and enriching parasites who should not even exist, much less feed at the public trough, give away control of public roads to private corporations to our collective impoverishment -- what else will the idiot do before voters are faced with a choice of him or a Fascist to be the next governor?  The Fascist candidates are so unlikely to succeed that Hack can go whole hog -- look out!

Randall Erkelens
Randall Erkelens

Would be really terrific if on the day the tolls open, nobody took 36.

Kris Herzberger Potter
Kris Herzberger Potter

We already pay for these roads with the exhorbant fees for tags, registration and taxes on our cars!! Why are we being taxed twice for the same thing??

James William
James William

Class Action Lawsuit I think would be the best way to get their attention. If we cannot afford and need to fund this privately without Colorado Tax payer approval why build this in the first place? So who is being paid under the table for this deal?

Ty Link
Ty Link

The money from Cannibus was suppose to go to infrastructure and schools, not to line fat cats with more money, a revolution is needed

Melissa Taylor
Melissa Taylor

I think the thing that is most infuriating about this is the secrecy behind it. If it involves costing Colorado residents ungodly amounts of money for the next 50 years shouldn't we at least be informed and vote on it? Meanwhile....Hickenlooper is planning on using the majority of the $100 million in marijuana taxes to fight marijuana use. Our state has issues. Why not use some of those revenues to fund this 36 Corridor project by our own people rather than making Goldman Sachs pockets even fatter?

L Vincent Miltenberger
L Vincent Miltenberger

Where is all of my tax money going. Instead of spending 99 million on pot programs why don't we pay for our roads.... The fucking government is a joke....

Mimisaurus Rex
Mimisaurus Rex

Ofcourse thy would. Push out the poor. Like colorado does. Im not at all surprised.

Lynn Stiles
Lynn Stiles

All the revenue from pot and we have to out source the road?

Lynn Stiles
Lynn Stiles

Do we get a refund from our taxes for that part of the road?

Joe Dellea
Joe Dellea

When I moved to colorado one of the things I liked was 36. It had been a toll-road, and when it was paid off they took down the tollbooths. I liked that.

James William
James William

I say we the citizens start doing some citizen arrest!! Government officials need to start going to jail for not listening to what us the tax payers/citizens want!

Jonnie Ramirez
Jonnie Ramirez

So people who don't drive still pay taxes on this?

Chris Brown
Chris Brown

This is a public road. We paid for it. I'll happily pay my portion of the taxes to maintain it , but DON'T go backwards! It is one of the few examples of maintaining the public trust.

Kevin Ziemer
Kevin Ziemer

Don't drive US 36 for 50 years, boycott it, so they can fund the road for no reason, whack as fuck... W/e they're kids kids will suffer

Paul Quigley
Paul Quigley

@nathaniel c marshall. Whoa there big guy. Chill the f*ck out!

Alex Pietro Cobell
Alex Pietro Cobell

You can't ask a private company to put a large amount of money/debt forward with no guarantee of future expected revenue, and as the article said, there is a limit to the revenue going to Plenary after which it goes back to the state for use on the U.S. 36 corridor. Not sure what you man regarding eco-friendly vehicles, but as far as charging those drivers tolls, they still contribute as much to congestion and so should pay to escape it just like everyone else. They already avoid a significant cost in gas and therefore gas tax that pays for the roads they drive on. And I think we've all seen the results of public votes on the running of our state (TABOR is the reason we're her to begin with)

Pete Giger
Pete Giger

Dude, ALL revenue of US 36 tolls go to Goldman Sachs and the Australian developer for 50 years. It collects fees on any creative new incentives to promote eco-friendly vehicles using 36 for 50 years - while populations of both cities continue to grow at the fastest rates they've ever seen. It may have been in the works for 2 years, but the public is just being informed of extremely pertinent details THIS WEEK. I don't think many detractors of this are against paying for its use, just that the money stay in CO to continue much needed improvements to our own infrastructure. William Toor's history and accomplishments are very noteworthy and he "hopes there will be more transparency next time around", well guess what, his ass will be long gone when that time comes. Why not do a 1-2 year trial run of it? Because it wouldn't be renewed if put to a public vote.

Nathaniel C Marshall
Nathaniel C Marshall

The protestors should have faced immediate summary execution! So tired of these nasty vile socialist pigs from Boulder! Only nasty vile subhuman scum oppose this righteous decision by CDOT!

Deanna Angelo
Deanna Angelo

Because Goldman Sachs hasn't ripped the country off enough, right? I love also that they are guaranteed revenue, and guess who has to pony up the cash for that? I fail to see how this truly benefits commuters and our state if the money is taken out of state.

Mick Paul
Mick Paul

I am with you Christopher. Maybe people will learn their lesson and vote YES for highway funding.

Kendra Bell
Kendra Bell

I think it's just another move that's making Americans despise our government. Proof that the government is NOT for the people by the people. #OccupyMovement

Benjamin Bradburn
Benjamin Bradburn

As citizens, we need to get our head around funding these things with tax money, otherwise there would never be justification for this type of thing. That being said, this is such a dramatic betrayal of the will of the people.

Steven J. Maltz
Steven J. Maltz

No way! Its just another way for Goldman Sachs to take advantage of the American Community!!!! This is an outrage!!!!!

Emm Deeze
Emm Deeze

Why the hell does fitting a revenue model have to do with what's best for the state of Colorado?

Christopher Snyder
Christopher Snyder

This happened because Coloradan's voted against funding for highways. so where should the money to improve & maintain this road come from?

Alex Pietro Cobell
Alex Pietro Cobell

Kind of tired of everyone expecting something for nothing. No one wants to pay more taxes, but a deal to toll new lanes and make users pay for the new lanes makes everyone scream about back room deals and greedy corporations. This P3 has been in the works for 2 years and every local government was involved. Maybe these same people should be more involved in the process than screaming like children when they don't get their treats for free.

Erika Gemba
Erika Gemba

Use the 80 million Hickenlooper wants to use for substance abuse treatments and youth marijuana use prevention...

Jenni Hunter Burger
Jenni Hunter Burger

No! And I went to CDOTs Facebook page and told them just exactly what I thought of them and their shady deals.

Brian Tate
Brian Tate

i'll miss you Boulder. see you in 50 years. maybe.

David Madrid
David Madrid

I am sure their pockets are full now fucking pieces of shit. What in the hell right do they have selling a public highway for personal gains?

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Enjoy your 50 marriage to Goldman Sachs, hopefully they are using some of that bail out money they stole from us to buy our highway.

Pete Giger
Pete Giger

of course CDOT would vote yes, and whatever the hell the Transportation Commission is, they're the ones getting the kickback with no ongoing responsibility! What a back alley deal.

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