DENVER - The Board of Commissioners that oversees the Colorado Department of Transportation gave unanimous approval to a plan that would partially privatize U.S. 36 at its meeting on Thursday.

The deal would give Plenary Roads Denver, a private company, the right to collect tolls on a new express lane being constructed on the highway for 50 years.

In exchange, Plenary will provide a private funds to help expand the highway.

Just before the vote, commissioners simultaneously praised the deal while saying that CDOT needs to do a better job of reaching out to the public when working on future public-private partnerships.

Thursday's meeting happened without disruption. In front of another board on Wednesday, three opponents of the privatization deal were forcibly removed.

CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford said it is likely the deal will be signed next week in New York. Plenary is still working to attract private investors to the project.

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