U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet welcomed the U.S. Senate passage today of their legislation to remove a cap on the amount of emergency transportation funds Colorado can access to repair the state's battered roads, bridges and highways in the wake of the recent flooding. The bill, the Deficit Neutral Infrastructure Disaster Relief Act, taps already appropriated funds and allows Colorado the same flexibility to use existing relief other states have received in the wake of massive natural disasters.
The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent this afternoon.
"I am proud my colleagues stood with Colorado and passed this common-sense and deficit-neutral bill to help Colorado repair its flood-damaged roads, bridges and highways," Udall said. "This is excellent news for Colorado communities who saw the roads and highways connecting them to the Front Range and other communities washed away in the devastating flood waters earlier this month. Nonetheless, I will keep fighting to ensure that Colorado has the federal resources it needs to rebuild better and stronger."
"Raising the funding cap for emergency infrastructure funding is vital to getting Colorado's roads and bridges back in working order," Bennet said. "This bill allows our state to access the crucial resources we need to get people moving around the state again. As Colorado and our local communities continue to rebuild, we'll remain committed to ensuring they receive the federal support they need."
Current law restricts access to a large portion of emergency road funds administered by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration to $100 million per disaster. The governor and the Colorado Department of Transportation have estimated that the damage resulting from last week's historic flooding will be in the range of $300 million to $500 million, far above the current cap.
Udall, Bennet and Colorado's members of the U.S. House of Representatives have worked since the flooding began to ensure Colorado communities and agencies have every federal resource they need to save lives, protect homes and start the recovery process. They led a delegation effort last week to urge the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to make crucial resources available to help Colorado recover from the recent historic floods by lifting the cap on funds that can be used for infrastructure-related expenses. Udall and Bennet also welcomed the release of $30 million in emergency transportation funds.
Udall and Bennet each spoke to the nation last week from the U.S. Senate floor to underscore not only the extent of the disaster itself, but also the resilience and strength Coloradans have shown in the wake of the floods. The lawmakers will continue to coordinate with Colorado's congressional delegation and federal agencies to advocate for additional federal resources to aid in recovery efforts.