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Udall, Bennet: Colorado Mass-Transit Wins Big in Transportation Funding Bill

Press Release

Location: Washington, D.C.

Udall and Bennet Fought to Include Funding for FasTracks, CASTA and
Veterans' Housing

Today, U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet congratulated the full Senate for approving a Transportation and Housing appropriations bill that includes $113.5 million for Colorado projects. Senators Udall and Bennet fought for the funding to expand FasTracks and improve transportation across the Denver metro area, help improve bus service in communities across the state, and enable Jefferson County to provide long-term permanent housing for homeless veterans.

The bipartisan Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill passed the Senate by a vote of 73-25. A final version of the bill must now be worked out with the House.

"Anyone who has fought traffic while trying to drive across town knows we must update our transportation infrastructure," Senator Udall said. "In 2004, the voters spoke loud and clear in support of FasTracks, to reduce traffic congestion in the Denver area and improve our quality of life, our economy, and our environment. The funding in this bill gets the ball rolling so we can continue to expand FasTracks this year and in the years to come. And I'm going to keep fighting to ensure the federal government pays its share of the cost."

"I was just as proud to fight for funding to improve and expand bus service in 27 communities across Colorado, as well as money to help find permanent housing for homeless veterans," Senator Udall continued. "The statewide funding for the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies will help update our aging fleet of buses to ensure they're as safe and efficient as possible. The funding for veterans in Jefferson County will help provide safe, permanent housing so that more of our state's veterans will no longer have to go to sleep homeless, seeking shelter under bridges or in doorways."

"In addition to creating jobs and giving our local economy a much needed lift, these transportation projects will give Colorado's commuters cleaner, more cost-efficient transportation alternatives that will help reduce traffic on our already strained roads and highways," Senator Bennet said. "Coloradans expressed their overwhelming support for more light-rail service several years ago, and this funding will help meet their demand for greater choice in their transportation options. And the veterans' housing project will help do something all of us, as Coloradans and Americans, can support - giving Colorado veterans who have fallen on hard times a helping hand when they need it most."

Of the $113.5 million in funding for Colorado in the bill, $110.5 million is for FasTracks, a voter-approved transportation program overseen by the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD). FasTracks includes 122 miles of rail and 18 miles of Bus Rapid Transit, Park-n-Ride expansions, improved bus service, and bicycle and pedestrian access improvements to stations across the Denver metro area. In November 2004, voters approved a 4/10 of 1 percent local sales tax initiative to pay 40 percent of the cost. The funding in the Transportation and Housing bill will help complete the West Corridor. And the funding for the East and Gold corridors in this year's bill will enable them to qualify for full funding from the federal government in coming years.

Lee Kemp, Chairman of the RTD Board of Directors, thanked the Senators for fighting for funding for FasTracks. "Thanks to the leadership of Senator Udall and Senator Bennet, these funds are another milestone in RTD's FasTracks program and another step forward in our efforts to build the nation's best transit system. Our goal is to create jobs and ever improve the economy, quality of life, and environment for our region. We are grateful to have such strong and committed partners in Senator Udall and Senator Bennet."


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