DENVER - Three opponents of privatizing a part of US 36 were forcibly removed from a meeting of the board working on the deal Wednesday.
After being told that they could not cede their public comment time to their attorney, and attempting to do so anyway, two members of an opposition group called the Drive Sunshine Institute were grabbed by state troopers and hauled away.
The same happened to their lawyer, Karen Hammer, who tried to keep speaking even though it wasn't her turn.
Hammer claimed she has the right to speak in place of her clients, but the board disagreed.
"Boards have a lot of latitude to set rules for public comment," said 9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson.
Hammer went on to say that she believed the decision to toss people out of the hearing would look bad to investors.
The board in charge of the privatization voted unanimously to finalize an agreement with a company called Plenary Roads Denver.
If the deal is approved on Thursday by a second board, which oversees all of CDOT, then the deal will likely be signed next week in New York.
The planned deal with Plenary would bring in private money to put towards construction, which investors would earn back with profits by collecting tolls on a new express lane for 50 years.
Carpoolers will be able to use the express lane toll-free. However, as part of the arrangement, CDOT is planning to change the required number of occupants from two to three in order to qualify for toll-free access in 2017.
From the investors' point of view, this sweetens the deal by encouraging more people to pay the tolls.
From DSI's point of view, the change will be a disincentive people to find a second person to share their ride, because it's harder to find a third person heading to the same destination.
CDOT has the legal authority to sign the contract under a 2009 state law aimed at boosting construction work on highways. The agency plans to sign the deal by the end of the month.