JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Gov. John Hickenlooper and other state leaders announced a big boost in federal flood relief this week.
Instead of $100 million, Colorado can now access up to $450 million in federal emergency transportation funds.
Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Mark Udall and members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, including Rep. Cory Gardner, worked with Hickenlooper to get the money and announced the change in a Monday news conference at Coal Creek Canyon, where some of the most heavily roadways are.
“We don’t care if there was an R or a D in front of our name, we are Coloradans and Americans,” said Udall, a Democrat.
“It shows again what happens when you get Republicans and Democrats working together,” Hickenlooper said.
Bennet said lifting the cap on emergency tranportation money allows Colorado’s recovery to move forward.
“It was a great team effort and important for our state,” Bennet said. “If we hadn’t been able to lift the cap, there would have been a lot of uncertainty about how to fund beyond the $100 million.”
State Highway 72, which runs up through Coal Creek Canyon, remains closed to the general public. Crews say the work there has been essentially nonstop since Sept. 23.
“We are working 20 hours a day, a night shift and a day shift and we are going 7 days a week,” Project manager Chris Paiz said.
Paiz said the crews are using as many natural elements as they can to re-build roads.
“The less material we have to import, the cheaper and quicker it’s going to go,” he said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has estimated the damage resulting from last months floods at between $300 and 500 million. Lawmakers hope the new cap on aid will meet the need.
“I think we stand a really good chance of seeing these roads open by Thanksgiving, which would be an amazing accomplishment,” Bennet said.
Colorado Floods: How To Help
The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.