DENVER (KDVR) — A major restoration project that will bring hundreds of Denver area families out of a flood plane will see a big boost in federal funding from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The South Platte River Project spans Denver and Adams counties. It will see $350 million in funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help expand the ecosystems that have been eroded over time along the South Platte River.
Colorado lawmakers, including U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, joined Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to celebrate the investment Friday.
The investment will revamp 450 acres and pull hundreds of families out of the floodplain.
“The river is so polluted the city has had to warn people not to swim, fish or drink from the water,” Bennet said. “We have to recognize that neighborhoods of color and low-income neighborhoods disproportionately live on floodplains.”
“Look at what the working people in Sun Valley pay for flood insurance. Now we’re going to be able to take that cost out of their monthly budgets and just give them a little bit of a leg up,” Hickenlooper said.
Cebil Riley, the owner and “chief dough officer” of Scooped Cookie Dough Bar, has several locations across the metro, but his company’s main kitchen is along the river. He believes flood insurance is worth it.
“You never know when something’s gonna happen,” Riley said.
Riley worries about other homes and businesses in the area at risk of flood, something this project hopes to mitigate.
“What I’m stressed about is the fact that there might be other businesses who might not be as secure as it and that’s one of the things I worry about,” Riley said. “It would be devastating on more levels than what I’m concerned about. We have a small business, however, I could see how other residential areas be more impacted, which would be more hurtful to me than my business.”
The group touted that the project would create 7,300 jobs during the life of the program, but could not lay out a specific timeline for when the project would start or be completed, but only said sometime over the next five years.
You can watch the full news conference on FOX31 NOW.