Private-toll-route bill advances in Colorado

| 2/7/2005

A Colorado House panel endorsed a bill Feb. 2 that paves the way for construction of a private toll road on the plains of the Front Range.

The House Transportation Committee voted 11-0 to give a private company power to acquire land from Wellington to the south of Pueblo to build a high-speed toll road about 25 miles east of the Interstate 25 corridor.

Ray Wells, president of the Front Range Toll Road Co., said the road would appeal to truckers who want to bypass the congested corridor that links Front Range communities.

Current law enacted in the 19th century authorizes each county to set the toll rates within its boundaries.

Under the proposal, offered by Rep. Jim Sullivan, R-Larkspur, the state’s tolling agency and the Front Range Toll Road Co. would be allowed to set a uniform toll for the entire length of road.

The cost of the proposed 210-mile route is estimated at $2 billion.

The project would include a new railroad route for coal and other freight as well as right of way for potential commuter or light rail lines and utilities.

The bill does not specify a toll amount.

Rep. Jim Welker, R-Loveland, told The Daily Times-Call that motorists in a hurry would have the option of paying tolls to use a freeway with an 85-mph speed limit.

Toll road officials told lawmakers the project could start this fall and be finished in about 30 months, Welker said.

The only access intersections would be at state and federal highways along the route. Commercial development along the corridor right of way would be limited to “service pods” for food, fuel and lodging, the newspaper reported.

HB1030 now moves to the House floor for consideration.