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Lawmakers to grill CDOT on US 36 plan

3:54 PM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - The Colorado Department of Transportation is on the defensive over a planned public-private partnership it says is necessary to fund upgrades to US 36 between Boulder and Denver.

State lawmakers scheduled a hearing on the proposal for Thursday morning, and many have concerns about the way in which CDOT is establishing its planned agreement with Plenary Roads, an Australian-based company that specializes in government partnerships.

The topic drew an angry crowd to a public information meeting CDOT hosted on Wednesday night.

Several Democratic lawmakers are calling on CDOT to pause the plan, in which private investors would front the money needed to make highway improvements in exchange for the right to collect tolls on an express lane for 50 years.

The investors would also be responsible for maintaining the highway.

This method of financing, supported by leading Democrats in 2009, is now under fire from the left. At its core, this takes some government jobs and moves them to private industry, an idea labor groups oppose.

Gov. John Hickenlooper remains supportive of CDOT's plans, a spokesman tells 9NEWS.

CDOT officials delivered a mea culpa on Wednesday night, saying they should have made more effort earlier to engage the public about what it's trying to do.

A more immediate concern of many lawmakers is the lack of transparency in the planned contract with Plenary, which hasn't been made public, though CDOT has shared summary information about it.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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