Gov. Jared Polis is asking Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to keep Colorado's Western Slope in mind when his federal agency considers funding new infrastructure projects.
In a Monday letter to Buttigieg, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and one-time presidential candidate, Polis said the Western Slope's transportation needs are not only vital to Colorado's economy, but that of the entire West.
"The Western Slope is the backbone of rural and urban communities along Interstate 70, the state's only contiguous east/west route and gateway to Colorado's thriving outdoor recreation industry," Polis wrote. "High costs of housing in our popular tourist destinations often push local residents to city outskirts or surrounding rural areas, compounding the need for accessible and affordable mobility options."
Polis told Buttigieg that the Colorado Department of Transportation has been working with several Colorado communities, including Grand Junction, on building mobility hubs, which are designed to help link people with all manner of transportation modes, including buses and rail.
He also cited similar efforts in Rifle and Glenwood Springs.
"Combined, the Grand Junction mobility corridor improvements, Glenwood Springs multi-model main street project, and Rifle park-n-ride expansion and relocation advance a regional approach to make travel safer, more accessible and more active along the I-70 corridor in Western Colorado," Polis wrote.
Currently, the U.S. Department of Transportation is eyeing more than $1 billion in grant requests nationwide to help fund such projects under a federal discretionary grant program.
That program, now known as Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, has awarded nearly $9 million since 2009.
"Colorado's Revitalizing Main Streets program has fortified a strong partnership between the state and cities and communities that's focused on strengthening downtowns and the quality of place," said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. "This grant application builds on that partnership."