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A bill that requires more public scrutiny of public-private road deals passed the House of Representatives on Monday and is heading to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk for signing.
Proponents of SB 197 say it will shine more light on the type of pact that attracted controversy in February when the Colorado Department of Transportation agreed to let Plenary Roads Denver maintain and collect tolls on U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder for 50 years.
Critics said the deal was done in secret and without public oversight.
The bill, spearheaded by state Sen. Matt Jones of Louisville, adds a number of provisions that are meant to protect the public, said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group.
The bill provides more clear information on the costs and alternatives of such deals; requires public participation at three key stages in the development of any deal; requires more communication with state lawmakers; bans noncompete clauses that undermine local decision-making; and mandates that the deals should be no longer than 35 years.
"These are basic protections that should be part of every private road deal the state pursues," Katz said. "Given the concern raised around U.S. 36, passing this bill is a good step forward and shows Coloradans that their elected representatives heard those concerns and acted."
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