Lauren Boebert lends support to Glenwood Springs’ South Bridge Project
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has requested that Glenwood Springs’ South Bridge Project be awarded a federal Rural Surface Transportation grant to help complete the long-envisioned southern connection to Colorado Highway 82.
“With Rural Surface Transportation (RST) grant funds, Glenwood Springs will construct a new bridge connection that will provide a critical second emergency route/evacuation access between state Highway 82 and the western side of the Roaring Fork River in the city’s south corridor,” Boebert’s office wrote in a letter dated Monday to federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The letter was linked in a Wednesday press release.
RST grants were established under former President Barack Obama’s Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015. Continued funding comes from President Joe Biden’s recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Boebert voted against that legislation along with the rest of Colorado’s Republican House delegation, calling it “wasteful” and “garbage” in tweets when the bill was passed.
On Thursday, she defended her support of infrastructure-specific funding from that spending package.
“I am for investing in rural Colorado, but Biden’s so-called infrastructure bill was not the right way to do it,” she said in a followup statement to the Post Independent.
Boebert said that less than 10% of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill went to roads and bridges, yet it provided tens of billions of dollars for what she called “Solyndra-style slush funds, Green New Deal policies, electric buses and government welfare.”
After voting against the Biden plan, Boebert introduced her America’s Infrastructure Modernization Act, which she said is strictly intended to fund infrastructure projects across the country.
“My bill would not increase federal spending or taxes, since it would reallocate $650 billion of the remaining unspent COVID funds,” Boebert said.
In her letter to Buttigieg regarding Glenwood’s South Bridge, Boebert acknowledges that RST funding would benefit the project, noting that city street and Garfield County road access to the south Glenwood area is limited and vulnerable to closures during natural or man-made disasters.
“A second bridge connection to (Highway 82) across the Roaring Fork River is needed to ensure safe travel and access for emergency vehicles and evacuees in the event of wildfires … and other hazards,” the Silt congresswoman wrote in the letter.
Referring to evacuation modeling done by the city in support of the bridge project, such a connection “would save countless lives that would otherwise be lost due to a backup of vehicles evacuating over Midland Avenue to the 27th Street Bridge,” Boebert wrote.
In May, Boebert hosted Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes, City Council Member Ingrid Wussow, City Attorney Karl Hanlon and City Manager Debra Figueroa at her Washington, D.C., office to discuss the South Bridge Project, among other transportation-related matters.
In addition to discussing the potential for RST funding for South Bridge with Boebert and Democratic U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, the Glenwood Springs delegation talked about potential federal funding for a variety of multimodal network projects on Colorado’s Western Slope.
Boebert also took the opportunity to discuss her proposed I-70 Detour Act, which would direct the Department of Transportation to study improvements to alternate routes, including Cottonwood Pass, and mitigate the impacts of extended I-70 closures, such as the ones related to wildfire and flooding the past two years.
While neither her I-70 Detour and Infrastructure Modernization proposals have gotten a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives yet, the awarding of RST funds is more imminent.
“Glenwood Springs’ South Bridge Project has strong local support including $24 million in local matching dollars,” Boebert said in the Wednesday release. “This worthwhile project will also help reduce congestion along the I-70 corridor. I am grateful to local officials for working with me on this issue in a bipartisan manner, and I look forward to seeing the South Bridge Project completed.”
Glenwood Mayor Godes said he appreciates Boebert’s support for the project.
“I am hopeful the bipartisan support for this critical life safety project will bring everyone to the table to figure out a funding solution,” Godes said. “Lives are at stake here, and we have to make sure this is the top funding priority for all partners.”