Gov. Polis, Colorado lawmakers attend bipartisan infrastructure bill signing

Colorado politicians were on hand to witness President Joe Biden sign a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal into law Monday afternoon, paving the way for billions of dollars to flow into the state for roads, bridges and climate-resilient infrastructure projects.

Gov. Jared Polis, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Joe Neguse and Jason Crow, all Democrats, were in attendance at the bill signing ceremony at the White House on Monday, according to press releases and social-media posts. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and former Democratic state Rep. Bri Buentello of Pueblo also attended.

“This important action means jobs and better roads along with a strong initial package to improve air quality and make progress on climate issues,” Polis said in a statement. “This new law, matched with Colorado’s own strong bipartisan infrastructure package that I was proud to sign this year, will help fix our roads, reduce traffic, invest in Front Range Rail, and protect our air and water.”

Polis signed an ambitious transportation and infrastructure package into law earlier this year, directing billions in state spending towards highways, electric vehicle charging, public transit and more.

“Colorado’s bipartisan infrastructure investment positions us well to benefit from new federal money from the federal bipartisan infrastructure law,” Polis said.

Based on formula funding, the federal package — formally titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — will bring $3.7 billion to Colorado for highways, $225 million for bridges, $916 million for public transit, $100 million for broadband expansion, $57 million for electric vehicle charging stations, $432 million for airports and $688 million for water infrastructure. There is also money set aside for wildfire and climate resiliency projects. 

“It was my honor to stand alongside President Biden as he signed into law this life-changing investment for the American people,” Crow said in a statement. “With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we’re making much-needed improvements to our roads and bridges, bringing our infrastructure into the 21st-Century, and the best part is that we’re going to employ American workers while we do it. As someone who has worked construction myself, I cannot overstate the impact these good paying jobs will have on our community.”

Colorado’s congressional delegation voted along party lines for the bill. Controversial first-term GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Silt called the legislation “wasteful” and blasted 13 Republican House members who cast a vote in support.

“This bill is historic. Coloradans sent us to Washington to get things done, and our bipartisan infrastructure bill delivers,” said Hickenlooper in a statement. “Together, we’re modernizing our roads and bridges, jumpstarting our transition to clean energy, and creating good paying jobs across the country.” 

Hickenlooper’s proposal to have states review utility rates for electric vehicle charging is included in the legislation.

Neguse championed two measures included in the final infrastructure bill: a new $5 billion program to upgrade the nation’s electric grid to better withstand natural disasters, and an expansion of a federal forest-resiliency initiative, the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership, to improve forest health and mitigate wildfire risk.

“Last year’s record-setting wildfire season in Colorado has highlighted the urgent need to invest in our forests and grasslands and support collaborative forest restoration efforts that we know will prove vital in preventing the spread of future wildfires,” said Neguse in a statement.

Additionally, the broadband investment in the bill is consistent with bipartisan legislation Bennet introduced this year.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve allowed our infrastructure to crumble as nations like China transform their own,” Bennet said in a statement. “Meanwhile, Washington has spent $5.6 trillion on two wars in the Middle East and over $5 trillion to cut taxes for the wealthiest people in America. We’re on the cusp of finally making major investments in the American people and in our country, and I’m grateful for the opportunity today to join President Biden as he signs this historic investment in our infrastructure into law.”

Content originally published by Colorado Newsline on November 16, 2021.

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