DENVER (KDVR) – As Colorado deals with the possibility that Interstate 70 could be closed through Glenwood Canyon for weeks, we did an exclusive interview with Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg about how the federal government can help.
“This is causing problems for families and businesses alike and we stand ready to help in every way we can especially pending a possible disaster declaration,” Buttigieg said. “When you have a major roadway like that go out…the disruption is immense and again, it’s a reminder of just how important it is to secure and improve our infrastructure for the future.”
Buttigieg says his department has already been in touch with the Colorado Department of Transportation. The secretary also said even more money and resources could be headed to Colorado soon if and when Gov. Jared Polis askes for a federal disaster declaration and the White House approves it.
“I know that this administration is ready to help in everyway we can and my department will take our instructions from the White House and snap into action in addition to the work that is already underway,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg also talked about how Colorado could benefit from the bipartisan $1.3 trillion infrastructure deal that the Senate is on the verge of voting on.
“The bipartisan infrastructure deal represents at least $3.7 billion in road funding for the state of Colorado alone,” Buttigieg said. “Now is the time to invest in the future, not only to create jobs today, but to make sure America succeeds in the economy of tomorrow. That’s especially important in a high growth state and high growth communities like so many places around Colorado.”
The bill includes money to help expand broadband internet access across the country. A new program in Colorado is aimed at helping some families pay to get access but some families can’t afford the up front costs.
“There would be over $100 million supporting broadband internet access going to Colorado alone,” Buttigieg said. “We believe in the 2020’s, internet access is right alongside having good roads and rails. It’s a connection that you need just like a road is in order to thrive in today’s economy.
Buttigieg responded to criticism that the infrastructure package is too expensive and could increase inflation, which is already climbing amid concerns that were created by the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.
“It’s important to note that some of what’s contributing to that pressure is that it actually has to do with our supply chains which are harder to keep running smoothly because we have this old and degrading infrastructure,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg said a recent report by Moody’s indicated that the bill and President Biden’s overall infrastructure vision would actually ease inflation pressure by improving labor markets and supply chains.