Colorado town blamed for intentionally slowing road

| 8/12/2005

When a new toll road goes up, many drivers look for an alternate route. But what do you do when the alternate route puts up a slew of stop lights and lowers the speed limit, making your trip that much longer?

That’s what drivers who travel in the area of Commerce City, CO, are saying city officials did. The drivers claim the city intentionally slowed down a stretch of road passing through their town that happens to run parallel to a toll road that was constructed several years ago.

Reuters reported that, when the toll road opened on state highway E-470 near Commerce City, CO, about 10 years ago, the speed limit on nearby Tower Road was inexplicably lowered from 55 mph to 40 mph. Traffic lights were also installed at three intersections.

New evidence suggests the changes were made as part of a non-compete agreement that town officials made with Colorado’s toll road authority. Critics charge that Tower Road was intentionally slowed down to encourage more traffic on the toll road.

Non-compete agreements are often executed to prevent state and local governments from building additional free lanes once a toll road is built.

Karen Hedlund, a partner at Nossaman, Guthner, Knox & Elliott LLP – a law firm that specializes in land use cases, corporate transactions and public policy law – told Reuters that an intentional slowdown of a nearby road is not something that is typically included in a non-compete agreement.