Concessionaire sought soon for 13 mile pike northwest of Denver - missing link in beltway

December 12, 2008

A six month old public toll highway authority is just a few weeks away from issuing a request for expressions of interest for a toll concession for the design, finance, construction and operations of Jefferson Parkway a 20km (13 mile) tollroad northwest of Denver. The Jefferson Parkway is a missing link in the '470 beltway' around the Denver area. It will go from CO128 in Broomfield to CO93 at W58Av north of Golden (see map nearby.)

Bill Ray executive director of the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA) says they are working on completing the permitting of the highway and on assembling right of way but will shortly be looking to talk with private groups interesting in taking on the project under a longterm concession lease contract. A formal RFP and selection would follow response to the Request for Expressions of Interest, and discussions with respondents.

"We have aimed from the beginning to seek private partners for this project. As the public authority we plan to assemble and own the land and the facility and to get all necessary permits, but we hope to find private partners to raise the money to design, build, maintain and operate the facility under a longterm contract," Ray said.

"We have the benefit of about $15m worth and five years of work by Colorado DOT in developing the project, so it is a more mature a project than you might expect from a six month old organization."

JPPHA has hired Parsons Brinckerhoff and Stantec on permitting and engineering and Icenogle Norton lawyers and are choosing a finance consultant and a public & government outreach person. The permitting is complete except for getting air quality conformity and acceptance in the Denver Regional MPO. They hope to get that application submitted by February.

Ray is reluctant to define the project at this stage. He says it may initially have intersections at grade though it will be designed for development to full expressway standard. The road as developed by the state has six interchanges. PB and Stantec are looking at how many of the interchanges are needed intiially and whether they can be simplified and phased in to keep initial costs down.

"We don't know yet what the revenues will support. I think it's certain the road will be developed in phases," Ray told us. "We can save a lot of money compared with what CDOT priced in the corridor study.

CDOT estimated the cost of the Northwest Corridor at $1,176m, but this includes 7 miles (11km) outside JPPHA's jurisdiction:

- 2 miles (3km) at the north end straddling US36 which is the responsibility of the Northwest Parkway Authority and is covered by a concession with Brisa

- 5 miles (8km) at the southern end designated US6 and US93 that is within the City of Golden

CDOT seems to have estimated the Jefferson Parkway portion as $835m but Ray says this can be substantially reduced by value engineering and avoiding the costs of some federal requirements assumed by the CDOT designed project. And it would be further reduced by phased construction such as leaving interchanges out of the initial build.

Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority (JPPHA) is a joint powers agency comprising Jefferson County, City of Arvada, and the City and County of Broomfield. The parkway is located entirely within Jefferson County and  the chairman of JPPHA is Kevin McCasky, chairman of the Jefferson County board of commissioners.

Much of the parkway route is within the City of Arvada. Bill Ray's official job is deputy city manager in Arvada though he says he seems recently to have been working virtually fulltime on  the Parkway project.

Each of the three jurisdictions contributed $100k to cover start-up costs last year and another $200k each this year.

The highway was the subject of planning and environmental permitting 2003 to 2008 by Colorado DOT ("Northwest Corridor, A Tansportation Environmental Study"). The state concluded it couldn't be funded with tax-based grants, and encouraged the local governments to form the toll authority.

Connects to access-controlled surface arterial

Golden built an access controlled surface arterial CO93/US6 Bypass from C470/I-70 to W58th Av in the early 1990s. This will need to be upgraded eventually to expressway standard by building about ten overpasses perhaps five or six of which would be interchanges, but for now the signalized highway will serve as the link between the Jefferson Parkway and C470/I-70.

BELTWAY HISTORY: The 470 number comes from a 1950s plan for an interstate highway I-470 to form a loop around Denver. The first segment attempted was the southwest outskirts of the Denver area between I-70 at the foothills of the Rockies to I-25 south of Denver. It might have been built in the 1970s as I-470 interstate but the anti-highways movement was in full swing and got the support of then Gov Richard Lamm who said he wanted to "drive a stake through" the project. He ordered planning work to cease and got it delisted as an interstate.

But despite the political histrionics the road was needed. After many more studies it was renamed as a "parkway" it was built with state funds in segments 1980-1990.

Battered by roadwars state officials didn't want to take on the E470, 'E' stood for Extension (but it might as well be East.) The eastern part of the belt was left to local cities and counties who formed the E-470 Public Highway Authority in 1988. The first small 8km (5 miles) southern segment opened in 1991 but the rest then delayed. The first alignment chosen was too far out and attracted too little traffic to uspport the bond financing.

Steve Hogan exec-director was quoted: "By late 1991, the whole project was near death and on life support. A number of analyses determined the only way the project was going to be built was if the road was moved closer in to the metropolitan area. Otherwise, it was unfinanceable."

Only when relocated 2.5km (1.5 miles) closer to Denver did it work financially and sell bonds.

Two more segments of 27km (17 miles) opened in the second half of 1998 and most of the pike was opened by mid-1999. The last segment US85 - I-25 at the northern end opened Jan 2003.

The North Western Parkway of 18km 11mi) was built 2002-2003 opening late 2003 as a further counter-clockwise extension of E470 across I-25 nearly to US36 in Broomfield. It too was built as a tollroad by the Northwest Parkway Public Highway Authority in 2003. It is now operated by Brisa, a Portugual-based internation tollroad developer and operator as a investor concession on a longterm lease.

For a while in the 1980s there was a W-470 Public Highway Authority to complete the western segment between US36 and I-70, but the proposed fianncing based ona  $10 surcharge on vehicle licenses met with strong opposition. W470PHA was disbanded after a ballot failure.

PPPHA website:

a pro-Jefferson Parkway group:

the Northwest Corridor Planning Study by CDOT:

TOLLROADSnews 2008-12-11

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