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On Friday April 18th, 2014, Bill 117 was introduced in the legislature aim to open toll roads to greater public review in the state of Colorado (USA). The bill would add new requirements to any future public-private partnerships.
The bill, spearheaded by state Sen. Matt Jones, a Louisville Democrat, is largely in response to the controversial public-private partnership PPP deal reached earlier this year between Plenary Roads Denver and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The US$425 million U.S. 36 Managed Lanes project involves the widening of the highway and the introduction of toll lanes. Under the contract, Plenary Group will finance the work on U.S. 36, including contributing its equity to the project, and will be repaid over a 50-year period through toll-lane revenue.
Local representatives have complained the deal appeared to be done in secrecy without oversight from lawmakers.
The new bill would add new requirements to any future road expansion through public-private partnerships for any deal agreed for more than 35 years, including public and legislative check-ins at critical points, town hall meetings, legislative oversight and legislative approval .
On the same day, April 18th, another bill introduced by Jones would allow more fuel-efficient vehicles to drive for free in toll lanes. For the past two years, almost no new fuel-efficient vehicles have been able to participate in the state's HOV toll-exemption program, since it reached its cap of 2,000 vehicles. The bill would increase the cap to 6,000 vehicles.