Colorado U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, Congressmen Ed Perlmutter, Jared Polis, and Cory Gardner, Governor John Hickenlooper, and local officials gathered today in Coal Creek Canyon to highlight the emergency transportation funding newly available to help rebuild and repair roads, bridges, and highways damaged in recent flooding.
While Washington shut down, Colorado's Congressional delegation -- House members and Senators, Democrats and Republicans -- worked together to secure a provision to lift the cap on how much emergency transportation funding Colorado can access. The delegation spent weeks urging their colleagues to pass the measure. It was included in the Senate's bipartisan agreement to end the shutdown and avoid a default.
Instead of $100 million, Colorado can now access up to $450 million in emergency funding to rebuild roads and bridges. The Colorado Department of Transportation estimates that this new cap will cover the full costs of Colorado's federally-maintained highway damage, covering at least 200 highway lane miles.
"These new funds will allow state and local road repair to happen even faster," Hickenlooper said. "This is a critical step for helping to rebuild our communities. We want to thank Colorado's delegation for working together, across party lines, to increase the Federal Highways Administration Emergency Relief Program cap."
"One month ago, biblical rains changed the map of Colorado, washing away homes and highways alike," Udall said. "I am proud to have worked across the aisle and to clear the way for Colorado to receive $450 million for flood recovery and rebuilding efforts -- a significant, game-changing amount of money. Because of this momentous win, Colorado will be able to reconnect communities literally marooned by the flood -- and re-forge the links between Main Street businesses in places like Jamestown and Lyons and the Front Range."
"In Colorado, we know how to work together. Community leaders, local elected officials, businesses, and non-profit groups from across the state have come together to assist in recovery efforts and have set an example of cooperation and generosity we all should follow," Bennet said. "Our Congressional delegation is no different. We know how to come together in times of crisis to put our state first, and petty political differences last. That's how we were able to collaborate across party lines and across chambers of Congress to remove this roadblock on emergency transportation funding and ensure that these communities receive the resources they need to rebuild stronger than before."
"The floods washed away and damaged mile after mile of Colorado highways and byways. The loss of life and property have taken a toll on many, and I am relieved Colorado can rebuild the many roads and bridges -- some of which were the only way to access communities -- that were destroyed due to this historic flooding," Gardner said. "In times such as these, when political gridlock seems to paralyze Washington to the core, I am honored to work with my Colorado Congressional colleagues to do the job that Coloradans expect us to do."
"The catastrophic floods that started on September 11th took lives and cost our State and communities hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. I want to thank the incredible response of FEMA and the State of Colorado in the immediate aftermath of this disaster, also our first responders, the police, firefighters, the Colorado National Guard and other emergency workers," said Perlmutter. "Upon assessing the initial damage, it was clear we needed more federal funds available for infrastructure repair. The Colorado delegation, both Republicans and Democrats pulled together and got it done."
"I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to raise the cap on emergency relief transportation funding so Colorado is able to repair road damage caused by last month's horrendous flooding," Polis said. "Our success in getting Colorado these much needed funds shows what can happen when we work together in a bipartisan effort toward an important goal."
"Since the floods began, I have worked with my colleagues to ensure Colorado received the federal aid necessary to recover from this tragic disaster," Coffman said. "I am pleased the Continuing Resolution included our House-passed Federal Highways Administration Emergency Relief bill so our communities will have the necessary resources to recover and rebuild after the catastrophic floods."
"All across the state, residents have lost their homes, businesses have been devastated, and communities have been destroyed. From mountain highways, to bridges that connect towns and neighborhoods, to roads that are the only lifeline for isolated communities, over 200 miles of Colorado roads have been impacted by the flooding," DeGette said. "By removing the cap on the Federal Highway Emergency Relief Program, Colorado can now get the assistance and relief it so urgently needs to rebuild. The Colorado delegation joined together in this effort, and I am so proud of this bipartisan achievement to get desperately needed resources to our constituents."
Members of the delegation have worked since flooding began to ensure that Colorado communities and agencies have every federal resource they need to save lives, protect homes, and start the recovery process. The delegation urged the President to quickly declare an emergency to make emergency funding available for response and recovery efforts. They also urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make disaster recovery funds available and have asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support Governor Hickenlooper's request to add additional counties to those eligible for individual and public assistance.