(June 4) – Reps. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette) and Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Arvada), the House sponsors of the Transportation Enterprise Transparency Act, expressed disappointment today after Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office announced that he was vetoing their bill.
SB14-197 was introduced by Sens. Matt Jones (D-Louisville) and Bernie Herpin (R-Colorado Springs) after the state High Performance Transportation Enterprise, affiliated with the Colorado Department of Transportation, finalized a deal this year to create a public-private partnership (PPP) with Plenary Roads Denver, a private consortium, to complete Phase 2 of the US Highway 36 upgrade between Boulder and Broomfield. The deal calls for Plenary Roads to maintain US36 for the next 50 years and to collect tolls on the HOV lanes it will build.
Many Coloradans, particularly those living along the Denver-Boulder corridor, have voiced concerns about the transparency of the US36 agreement and about giving private interests so much authority over a vital public right-of-way. The bill would have required more public hearings and legislative review for future PPP negotiations.
The governor accompanied his veto with an executive order directing CDOT to develop rules requiring public hearings before PPP contracts are finalized.
“I understand the need for public-private partnerships and I appreciate that the governor’s executive order appears to address the public input issue,” said Rep. Kraft-Tharp, the vice chairwoman of the Business, Labor, Economic & Workforce Development Committee, whose district straddles US36 in northeastern Jefferson County. “But at our town meetings in Westminster, Louisville and Boulder, we heard that the citizens also want their legislators to be part of the process. Public input and legislative oversight are both vital to the success of these projects.”
“This bill had bipartisan sponsorship and bipartisan support, and we worked with the governor’s office and CDOT to draft the bill,” said Rep. Foote, whose district borders US36 in the Louisville-Superior area. “Public-private partnerships must have the support of the people and their elected representatives. Presenting a deal to the public and its representatives after completion won’t gain that support. Now it’s up to the governor to make that case.”