DALLAS — Isolux Corsan Group, a private Spanish developer, could finance and build the next major link in a beltway around the Denver metro area if it reaches agreement with the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority.
The company, one of Spain’s largest engineering and construction firms, was one of several that responded to the parkway authority’s request for proposals in February. The authority’s board of directors voted last week to begin talks with the company.
“This vote marks a critical step forward in bringing the Jefferson Parkway to reality,” said authority chairman Marc Williams.
Isolux Corsan operates in 23 countries on four continents. Its core growth businesses are highways, power transmission, and car-park concessions. The company has more than 1,050 miles of highways in Brazil, India, Mexico, and Spain, and over 21,000 parking spaces under concession in Spain.
The authority, comprised of Jefferson County, the city of Broomfield, Broomfield County, and the city of Arvada, was created to build a major piece of the metropolitan beltway, closing a gap between State Highway 128 in Broomfield and State Highway 93 north of Golden.
Officials in Golden have fought plans to build the tollway, fearing it would reduce the quality of life in the quaint Denver suburb.
Currently, the beltway that began with C-470 south of Denver extends almost to Golden in the form of the Northwest Parkway.
The Northwest Parkway was built as a public toll road by local governments acting as the Northwest Parkway Authority but was sold in 2007 to a private Portuguese-Brazilian developer known as Brisa/CCR. That was after revenues fell short of projections, raising the specter of default on the toll revenue bonds. Brisa/CCR paid $603 million, retiring the debt, in exchange for a 99-year lease on the tollway.
A year later, the Colorado Department of Transportation officially dropped plans to close the 10-mile gap between the Northwest Parkway and C-470 after Golden, Boulder, and Boulder County objected to the plan, saying it would create traffic jams in the area.
Golden, the county seat of Jefferson County, is in talks with county officials about mitigating the impact of the tollway along the current path of Colorado 93. Golden Mayor Jacob Smith said the city would sue to block the Jefferson Parkway if negotiations fail to adequately protect the city.
The City Council voted unanimously on Feb. 24 to continue working towards a possible agreement around the toll road, but not to give up the city’s right to sue to stop the parkway unless specific requirements were met to protect the city from future traffic and environmental impacts.
Boulder and Boulder County’s negotiations with Jefferson Parkway focus on the preservation of a key open-space parcel.
The Golden decision was made after Golden officials heard from hundreds of residents at a series of four public informational meetings and at the Feb. 24 City Council session.
One key issue is the impact on the site of the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant site on bluffs overlooking Denver. The once heavily polluted site is being maintained as a wildlife preserve.
The Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority has indicated that it is prepared to pay $2.8 million for a 300-foot right of way along the eastern side of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.
“The City Council has directed the city to keep negotiating in good faith but also to preserve all our options until there’s an enforceable agreement that meets Golden’s transportation needs,” said Golden city manager Mike Bestor. “This letter is consistent with that position, which reflects much of the input we received from Golden citizens.”