Contractor’s plan for I-70 would require ‘little or no’ public funding |

Contractor’s plan for I-70 would require ‘little or no’ public funding

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News
Aspen, CO Colorado
David Gidley/Special to the Summit Daily NewsNumerous small fixes to Interstate 70's mountain traffic problem - including the "rolling speed harmonization" pictured here - have done little to alleviate the situation. One private firm's proposal to create additional, tolled lanes, is being considered by CDOT.

Toll lanes could be part of Interstate 70’s future if one private contractor’s plan gets implemented.

Eight months after the private firm Parsons submitted an unsolicited and undisclosed proposal for a project to improve Interstate 70 in Colorado, details of the plan – including new toll lanes and a transit system – are coming to light.

The proposal, presented to the Colorado Department of Transportation in July, indicates the project could generate enough money that little or no state or federal money would be needed to implement it, according to a statement from CDOT.

CDOT reached out to other firms Friday, asking for statements of interest in submitting competing proposals in the future.

“Through our process, when we receive an unsolicited proposal, we have to go out for comparable proposals,” CDOT spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said. “We’re looking at qualified firms to see who would propose to make sure there’s interest.”

CDOT has kept the details of the Parsons proposal quiet, saying the specifics are proprietary and can’t be made known to the company’s competitors.

But with the request for statements of interest Friday, CDOT released a blueprint of the Parsons proposal, a phased plan which would implement “managed” or toll lanes that would be priced to correspond to the level of congestion. The existing lanes on I-70 would remain free, according to the statement.

The plan calls for improvements to be implemented first between C-470 and Silverthorne and later extended all the way to Eagle.

A transit system is also part of Parsons proposal in the long term, but CDOT did not give any details as to the time frame, route or nature of the system.

CDOT officials say they’re far from committed to the Parsons plan.

“We’re we don’t even know if this concept idea is something we want to share yet,” CDOT region 1 director Tony DeVito said. “We want to see what the industry thinks.”

Devito called Friday’s request for statements of interest from other firms “step one of 100.”

Whether CDOT chooses Parsons or another private firm to complete an improvement project on I-70, the company will have to go through steps to examine and validate its proposal, including a detailed traffic and revenue study, federal environmental clearance, a technical plan and a financial plan “to establish a financial structure, balancing risks and rewards, that will be attractive to private investors,” according to CDOT’s statement.

Both CDOT and the selected developer will have opt-outs during the process in case the project turns out not to be financially feasible.

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