The High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) board of directors has unanimously approved three resolutions to move forward with the U.S. 36 public-private partnership (P3) concessionaire agreement. The board approved resolutions addressing the U.S. 36 concession financial close documentation, the U.S. 36 bond documents and TIFIA Phase 1 documents.
Approval followed a public-comment session during which members of the public had the opportunity to address the board following an established process. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) addressed how the agreement protects the taxpayers and traveling public while accelerating and completing a much-needed project 20 years that would otherwise be possible given available funding, while also shifting the risk of construction costs and toll collection to a private partner.
The U.S. 36 project has been the result of an extensive public process over the last decade. The project began in 2003 with an Environmental Impact Statement process that included intense and lengthy participation from local governments and incorporated hundreds of public comments from numerous public meetings. The U.S. 36 Express Lanes Project—a new express lane for bus rapid transit, carpool vehicles and tolled vehicles, as well as the reconstruction of existing general-purpose lanes (which continue to be free to all users) and the rebuilding of many aging bridges and a bikeway—is the result of that process.
Phase I of the U.S. 36 project is currently under construction and will be opened by spring 2015. Phase II of the project will be executed through a P3. Plenary Roads Denver was chosen last April as the concessionaire for the project after a two-phase competitive bid process, which also included consultation with local governments and covered by the media. CDOT is entering into this agreement to build much-needed improvements on a highway opened in 1995, two decades sooner than the agency could otherwise afford.
As the first P3 for the state of Colorado, the arrangement will accelerate construction through the investment of the private sector while transferring the risk of construction and maintenance costs, as well as toll revenues to the concessionaire. CDOT has agreed with the concern surrounding transparency and looks forward to working with the legislature on a bill improving this process.