Privatization, Toll Lanes on Colorado I-70, C-470 Spark Concern

Macquarie_I70For Immediate Release – January 16, 2014

Plan to privatize and add toll lanes to Colorado I-70, and C-470 Sparks Public Concern

Call to investigate fast moving $1 billion I-70 East Corridor Macquarie deal- possibly brokered by former chair, House Committee on Transportation, Glenn Vaad, Chair of the powerful ALEC Commerce Task Force

(Click to view media release PDF)

“The most alarming thing is that Colorado does not know the crown jewels, our public highways, are being privatized by ALEC with expensive toll lanes as we speak. US 36 has already been privatized with a 50 year contract that will be signed at the end of January 2014.  I-70 and all of C-470 are next to be privatized and tolled.”  Ken J Beitel – A Friend of Colorado

Here are the CDOT reports overseeing the privatization and tolling of Colorado’s public highways.  Is the public interest being served by privatization of Colorado highways or are there public sector financing alternatives?

Click sign the petition to encourage public review of the $1 billion dollar sale of I-70

(Denver, CO) Yesterday, Colorado’s High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) released its Fiscal Year 2013 report to growing alarm over privatization and tolling of Colorado’s public highways.

Colorado’s first privatized highway- US #36, running from Denver to Boulder and operated under a 50 year concession by the Plenary Group- is already generating controversy after plans to increase the HOV lane requirement from 2+ people in the car to 3+ were published in the just released HPTE annual report. The change, effective as of Jan 1, 2017 or possibly earlier if congestion grows, will help increase highway revenues by leaving more space in the HOV toll lanes on US 36 and I-25 for paying customers.

“The people of Colorado are concerned to find out that our public highways are being leased for 50 years or more to private sector toll road firms. If privatization is the right way to go, the process needs to be transparent with public review of contracts along with the approval of the Colorado legislature,” explains Advisory Board Chair of the Drive SunShine Institute (DSI), Ken Beitel, “It’s a scandal that I-70 heading up into the mountains and in downtown Denver, and the southwest free section of C-470 are being privatized and made into toll roads. Another billion dollar road privatization deal took a large step forward yesterday at the monthly Colorado Transportation Commission meeting.” CDOT privatization pipeline map-click here.

Colorado Road Privatization Video- Watch 2 Minute Clip to Find Out Why You Should be Alarmed

Click sign the petition to encourage public review of the $1 billion dollar sale of I-70

The HPTE was created under the leadership of former state representative Glenn Vaad, who worked for 31 years at the Colorado Department of Transportation in various positions, including legislative liaison and secretary to the Colorado Transportation Commission. As a state representative from 2006 to 2012, Vaad was the ranking chair of the Colorado House Transportation Committee.

High-Performance Transport Enterprise (HPTE) 2013 Annual Report:

Under the agreement, Plenary is responsible for risks associated with the level of traffic in the express lanes and the sufficiency of toll revenues to support repayment of loans, as well as the long-term operation and maintenance of the highway. In the concession agreement, HPTE directors approved a provision that after Jan. 1, 2017 will only allow vehicles with three or more occupants to travel toll-free in the U.S. 36 and I-25 express lanes. Until then, vehicles with at least two occupants, so-called HOV 2+ vehicles, can continue free use of the lanes, unless congestion increases…

Listed in the report, “Buying Influence” by watch dog group Common Cause, Vaad has recently come under heavy questioning for accepting “scholarship” money in 2006, 2007 and 2008 from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization dedicated to privatizing public infrastructure and converting state owned highways into toll roads. ALEC brings together state lawmakers like Vaad, and corporate lobbyists to draft legislation that is later adopted in state houses across the country. Vaad received an ALEC “2012 State Legislator of the Year Award” in part for his work on the ALEC model bill titled “Establishing a Public-Private Partnership (P3) Authority Act” (click link for bill text). Co-written by Vaad in New Orleans on Aug 3, 2011 with Geoff Segal, Vice President of Government Relations with Macquarie Capital, the ALEC (P3) bill allows other states to quickly create a privatization authority modeled after Colorado’s High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE). Click here to view leaked ALEC task force agenda – New Orleans August 3, 2011.

“It is time for Coloradans speak out to stop the theft of our public transportation system- before it is entirely too late,” urges Beitel. “People are outraged to find out that I-70 is going to become a toll road.” 

In 2011 and 2012, while a Colorado state lawmaker, unknown to his constituents, Vaad was also the chair of the ALEC Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development task force. His job was to advance ALEC’s insurance, banking, transportation and infrastructure policies. Whistle blower ALEC task force memos show that Vaad was literally crafting legislation to privatize highways in partnership with lobbyists from toll road firms Cintra, Transurban and Macquarie Capital. (click here for New Orleans Aug 3, 2011 ALEC Task Force Agenda). Now on the CDOT website, each of these ALEC task force lobbyists is listed as a bidder for Colorado highway privatization projects. Here is the question: is Vaad serving the people of Colorado or his colleagues at ALEC?

Colorado’s Transportation Commission is now advancing a proposal from Macquarie Capital for a $1.1 billion privatization and expansion of downtown I-70 that will likely be financed by toll way conversion. According to its website, Macquarie’s investment bank had $361 billion of assets under management as of March 31, 2013.


***Press Contact: Ken Beitel, Advisory Board Chair, Drive SunShine Institute (DSI)
ph: 720 436 2465 email: Website: Friends of the Colorado Public Utility Commission

Media and Public Resources:

Click sign the petition to encourage public review of the $1 billion dollar sale of I-70

Download Confidential Macquarie $1.1 Billion I-70 East Proposal from CDOT Website

Document is called:     01 TC-HPTE I-70E Workshop.pdf — PDF document, 837 kB (858054 bytes)

Download the HTPE staff summary of the Macquarie proposal
-presented to the January 15, 2014 Colorado Transportation Commission meeting for to facilitate a decision on which funding option to proceed with

Concerned about the costs & risks of road and infrastructure privatization?

Check out the remarkable “In the Public Interest” website

Read about the Privatization of Public Highways in Texas By Cinitra

(Click to download I-70 photo for use in media stories – Medium Resolution)

(Click to download I-70 photo for use in media stories – High Resolution)

What is Privatization?

Privatization involves handing over control of public functions to private companies.  To keep it simple, we place privatization contracts into two categories:Contract

  • Service privatization: The government pays a contractor to provide public services
  • Asset privatization: Typically, the government receives money for the building, long-term lease, or purchase of revenue-producing infrastructure, facilities or other assets.  See our page on public-private partnerships for additional information.

Risks of Privatization

Privatization and contracting out involve giving up control of public structures we all rely on to private companies.  Once a public service or asset is privatized, we, the public, lose the ability to have a voice in decisions affecting that service or asset.  We also lose the ability to request and view important information related to the privatized function.  Without proper information and a forum in which to voice opinions, the public is effectively shut out of the decision-making process.  These services and structures are no longer controlled by a government accountable to the public, but instead beholden to companies who may have entirely different goals and priorities.

Read More…

Read All Comments from the petition- a handful below

Click sign the petition to encourage public review of the $1 billion dollar sale of I-70

crystal jacquez coterill San Francisco, CA 2014-01-14
Isn’t it time that the environment is considered and respected after all it’s our
bed and we will have to lie in any sh!t we put in it. And there is no profit that
can fix what is happening in West Virginia that will make up for the thousands
of victims of weak policy and strong corporate lobby – If you want to keep your
job Mr. Hickenlooper work for the people that voted for you.
paul heiman parachute, CO 2014-01-15
This will just delay the progress that is inevitable

Loren Meaux Denver, CO 2014-01-15
no more PUC members who will do nothing but rape the environment and
raise my rates.

Roberta Otto New York, NY 2014-01-15
Fossil fuel industries and those industries that benefit from the status quo
should not be allowed to thwart cleaner solar energy.

Myriah Sullivan Conroy Boulder, CO 2014-01-15
It is vital to our national security that we have an informed and progressive
utility commission. The ALEC group’s interests are not aligned with the future
we need or want for real Americans. Please REJECT the ALEC nomination.

Myriah S. Conroy

Paul Logue Thornton, CO 2014-01-16
If the sale price to Xcel of electric power created by the PV panels on my roof is
reduced from 11¢ per kWh to 4.6¢, the resale value of my house will drop
considerably. Further, I agreed to place PV panels on my roof to help reduce
my carbon footprint, not to support Xcel’s Business Plan. And Xcel agreed.
Dane Cobble Boulder, CO 2014-01-16 Calling for a Progressive Libertarian to run against Governor Frackenlooper!
The man is making it easy for open-eyed Democrats to see that he serves the
same immoral, anti-democratic and anti-liberty forces that his opponents serve.
When we see through the carefully constructed façade of two-party politics, we
realize that voting for the “lesser of two evils” accomplishes nothing good. It
simply perpetuates the illiberal and literally deadly status quo. 2008 was the
last time that I voted for the supposed “lesser of two evils”. I will not vote for
Frackenlooper. I will not vote for a “lesser” candidate ever again. <a
rel=”nofollow”></a> describes a very simple system
so even the most die-hard partisan can vote for other, worthier candidates than
the stooge put forth by “their” party.

Chance Page Glen Rose, TX 2014-01-16
Solar power helps provide energy and save the ecosystem
Matt Jones Littleton, CO 2014-01-16
These roads are vital to our communities business, and residence. No one can
afford to pay a toll, it would hurt everyone, except the people making $$$ from the toll

kim pursell hotchkiss, CO 2014-01-17
ALEC exists to promote the interests of the ultra wealthy and their flat earth
fossil fuel policies of profit over people.For these neanderthals to plot the future of this State is unconscionable.

Dolores Williams Fort Collins, CO 2014-01-17
We don’t need to sell our roads to private companies. Stop it.

Pat Eaton Rollinsville, CO 2014-01-17
STOP PRIVATIZING!! !the roads are our, “commons!!!”

david gross pueblo, CO 2014-01-17
We need more consumer oriented people on the PUC
preston gordon aurora, CO 2014-01-17
i can barely afford the gas to get to work, much less if i have to pay just to drive
on the highway i take.

Michael Kolesar Fort Collins, CO 2014-01-17
Privatization of Public Roads should be put to a vote of those affected by it and
not simply enacted by a Utility or other Commission. Tolls as on I470 are
excessive and in some areas like the airport cost about $1/mile (104th to
airport exit).

Click sign the petition to encourage public review of the $1 billion dollar sale of I-70