Toll Road Controversy Changes Colorado Law On Private Takings

When a developer proposed building a toll road under an 1891 law that allowed private developers to condemn property needed for a road, land owners protested, and Colorado changed the law.
September 23, 2006, 9am PDT | Charles Siegel
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"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."

"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."

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Published on Friday, September 22, 2006 in The New York Times
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