Public-private roads transparency bill dies

From The Denver Post:  On the same day that state road officials approved a public-private partnership to help finance the $1.8 billion reworking of Interstate 70 in northeast Denver, a bill to add more oversight to such deals was killed in the Colorado legislature.

Senate Bill 172 would have added more transparency over deals struck by the Colorado Department of Transportation with private firms to help build, finance and maintain roads, said state Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, who sponsored the bill.

It was defeated in a 3-2 vote in the Senate Transportation Committee — Republicans Randy Baumgardner, Ray Scott and John Cooke voted against it, while Democrats Nancy Todd and Leroy Garcia voted for it.

“The people have the right to know what’s going on with their roads,” Jones said. “Secret Wall Street deals create very real Main Street problems. I’m disappointed that politicians killed this bill today, but I don’t think the public demand for it is going away anytime soon.”

Jones penned the bill after the public outcry over the public-private partnership formed between CDOT and Plenary Roads Denver to rebuild U.S. 36 from Denver to Boulder. Critics said the contract was produced with little public oversight.

Jones introduced a similar bill last year, but it was vetoed by Gov. John Hickenlooper. CDOT and others objected to requiring legislative approval of any road contract extended over 35 years.

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