Colorado developer wants toll road eerily similar to TTC, calls in Halliburton to intimidate landowners

Link to New York Times article here.

Note how this corridor is to include utilities and rail (sound familiar, like the Trans Texas Corridor?). Also, it mentions public-private partnerships (how much you wanna bet it’s foreign investors, too) which allows this developer to use the State’s eminent domain powers to condemn the land over the LOUD objections of the property owners who say they’ll refuse to sell. More eminent domain abuse…this must be stopped! We must clean house at every level of government until private property rights are protected they way our forefathers fought and died to secure!

Lastly, this developer brought in BIG MONEY, a Halliburton subsidiary, to intimidate landowners. Are we convinced yet that our government has become abusive and complicit with this takeover by BIG MONEY and BIG BUSINESS at the expense of the founding principles and protections our country was built upon? Get this book and see for yourself: The Big Ripoff- How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money.

Developer Wants Toll Road; Colorado Makes It Difficult
By MARTIN FORSTENZER
New York Times September 22, 2006

FORT COLLINS, Colo., Sept. 21 — After Robert Thomasson and his wife found out in the early 1990’s that the house they had built near the Denver suburb of Aurora lay in the path of a proposed public toll road, they moved to a 60-acre ranch in pastoral Elbert County, about 60 miles southeast of the city.

“We ended up fighting it but were unable to prevail, so we decided to move out here to Elbert County, where it would never happen again,” Mr. Thomasson said.

In 2002, Mr. Thomasson, a retired teacher, learned that his new home sat in the path of another toll road, one proposed by a private developer. “My wife and I spent two years building our home here,’’ he said. “We were devastated.”

The private toll road has become the object of a bitter struggle between Ray Wells, the Denver developer proposing it, and the owners of thousands of houses, ranches and farms in its path.

Mr. Wells, who has built hundreds of miles of roads in the state, has said the toll road, which he has been planning off and on since the 1980’s, will be a speedy alternative to busy Interstate 25 through Denver. It would run north and south across the plains and hills about 25 miles to the east, stretching for 210 miles through seven counties from Fort Collins to Pueblo. It would include a freight railroad line and a utility corridor to carry electricity and natural gas.

Mr. Wells estimates that the project, which he calls the Prairie Falcon Parkway Express but which has long been nicknamed the Super Slab, will cost about $2.5 billion, a spokesman said. Mr. Wells has said he intends to raise the money from investors.

The developer’s original plan relied on an 1891 Colorado mining law that allowed private developers to condemn private property needed for a road. After Mr. Wells strongly lobbied the Colorado legislature last year to pass a bill making it even easier for him to build the toll road, Mr. Thomasson helped rally about 1,200 property owners to march on the Capitol in Denver, carrying signs and shouting slogans opposing the project. The landowners successfully fought to defeat of the measure.

Opponents of the road then achieved passage of two bills to restrict greatly the construction of private toll roads. Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, vetoed both bills last year, but he signed similarly worded ones into law this summer after they passed again.

The new laws removed the right of private toll road developers to condemn private property and require them to negotiate a more complex and expensive bureaucratic process.

“It was hard for me to understand how the governor could support private toll road companies asserting condemnation powers when the law that they were claiming gave them the power was put on the books before the automobile was even invented,” said State Senator Tom J. Wiens, a Republican who sponsored one bill.

Mr. Wells’s spokesman, Jason Hopfer, said the toll project would reduce traffic on Interstate 25 and provide an alternate route for railroad freight cars that now pass through Denver.

“The route addresses the need for infrastructure in Colorado that is sorely lacking,” said Mr. Hopfer, who also said Mr. Wells declined to be interviewed for this article. “If you just drive I-25, you see the need for an alternative route. A great deal of the population of Colorado lives along the corridor, and there’s no other north-south alternative.”

Critics said the road was not needed.

Marsha Looper, an opponent and a Republican who is running for a seat in the state House, said: “We have the Ports to Plains Highway that is in direct competition with this proposed road. It’s a toll-free federal highway that our taxes are paying for that is only 40 miles to the east of the Super Slab.”

After the new legislation passed this summer, many around the state thought the toll road project was dead. To build it, Mr. Wells must now either buy all the property needed for its construction or buy much of it and form a public-private partnership with the state, which could condemn the rest. Either would be difficult and very expensive.

Undaunted by the new restrictions, however, the developer filed papers with the state in August to proceed with the toll road under the current law, and hired the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown &; Root to work on it. Under his new plan, the road would be built on a 1,200-foot-wide path inside a designated three-mile-wide corridor.

“We think the new legislation gives a framework that was missing in the past, that will make it clearer as to what the next steps are,” Mr. Hopfer said. “This gives more structure to the process.”

Worried property owners in the corridor said they had no intention of selling. Tommy and Phyllis Orr raise corn and alfalfa on 60 acres in Weld County. “We moved here in 1964,” Ms. Orr said. “The road might cut our farm right in two, or it just might take out the whole thing. I don’t want to be forced off of our property. We’re too old to relocate and start our lives over.”

Some opponents said Mr. Wells hired Kellogg, Brown &; Root to intimidate property owners, and because of the company’s political influence. Its parent company’s ties to the White House and other political connections are well known.

“I think he needed that power and influence,” Ms. Looper said. “The intimidation factor is extremely big.”

To which Mr. Hopfer responded, “That’s just conspiracy theories.”

Leave a Reply