Colorado to benefit in many ways from FAST Act passage

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Washington, DC, December 4, 2015 | comments

Content originally published by the Denver Post on December 4th, 2015.

The $305 billion highway transportation funding bill that Congress passed and sent to the White House has a lot for Colorado to love, besides unsticking much-needed transportation money for state projects. The five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act restores a crop-insurance subsidy that’s available to Colorado farmers and renews the Export-Import Bank, which extends help to small businesses in the state.

Maybe no one was happier about the funding bill — the longest transportation funding bill in 17 years — than U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Arvada.

“This bipartisan legislation will provide $281 billion in guaranteed funding for highway, transit and transportation safety programs over the next five years, including more than $3.4 billion in direct highway and transit formula funds for Colorado,” he said.

Perlmutter said the act would help create jobs, repair or replace aging infrastructure, boost public transit and strengthen the economy. He said the Export-Import Bank helps promote exports by U.S. companies, which includes at least 18 small businesses in his district.

Perlmutter authored two provisions in the bill: one to ease regulatory requirements on housing authorities and tenants and one to modernize train horn requirements “to provide communities flexibility and keep the public safe,” he said

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat, said he was glad to see the end of stop-gap funding that has been the norm for the past 10 years.

“For more than a decade, Congress has been stuck in neutral when it comes to passing a long-term bill to fund our highways and transit systems, only managing to pass dozens of short-term extensions,” he said. “This bill gives Colorado communities the benefit of five years of certainty to maintain our roads and bridges and begin construction on new projects to support our growing economy. It will help complete crucial projects around the state, including the expansion of I-25 through Fort Collins and the Southeast Rail Line extension.

He said the FAST Act, however, was not the answer to solving the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.

“Congress needs to use this time to come up with a realistic solution that will help us build and maintain the infrastructure needed to be competitive in the 21st century global economy,” Bennet added.

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