"Land Grab" from 5280 Denver Magazine, July 2006
One morning in 2005 Robert Thomasson spent about 45 minutes on his personal computer and paid the state $50 to file a claim on a half-mile-wide toll road route that starts at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center and then cuts a 15-mile swath up Speer Boulevard to downtown. His private thoroughfare will gobble up much of the lush golfing grounds of the Denver Country Club and its residential neighborhoods before laying waste to the Channel 9, Channel 7, and Channel 13 studios. After sweeping down Speer, the road will hang a right on Lincoln and grab Channel 4, take a bite out of the governor’s mansion, and plow through prime downtown real estate to Coors Field.
Thomasson, 55, is a retired teacher who figures he could charge quite a chunk of change to folks in a hurry to see a Rockies game. But he really has no intention of building a toll road. He filed his claim to dramatize how easy it is for anyone to use Colorado’s 1865 toll road law that allows a private developer to claim private property by way of eminent domain —- the process by which typically only the government can take private land for roads, utility easements, and the like.