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New Legislation Helps Fund Eisenhower Tunnel Fire Suppression System

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The Eisenhower Tunnel (credit: CBS)

The Eisenhower Tunnel (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law Saturday establishing the Petroleum Cleanup and Redevelopment Fund within the Division of Oil and Public Safety, a part of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

A ceremony was held at the Eisenhower Tunnel for the signing.

The legislation includes $5 million of critical seed money for a fire suppression system at the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels, allowing the Colorado Department of Transportation to pursue the additional funding necessary to build it.

“This is an important first step for developing this system in both tunnels,” CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt said in a statement. “A closing or long-term damage to one of these tunnels could cost Colorado billions of dollars, not only to one of Colorado’s greatest transportation assets, but also to the I-70 Mountain Corridor communities, tourism, and recreation.”

The Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and a fatality has never occurred inside it.

This legislation was carried by state Sens. Cheri Jahn and Steve King and Reps. Millie Hamner and Ray Scott.

The bill It also creates and enables investigation and clean-up of petroleum contamination at former gas stations sites that have been unaddressed for decades because of their age.

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