(April 9) – A bill that will provide funding for a fire suppression system in the I-70 Eisenhower and Johnson tunnels and creates the Petroleum Cleanup and Redevelopment Fund passed the House today by a vote of 47 to 15.

HB13-1252, sponsored by Reps. Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) and Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction), creates a new cash fund to clean up sites that are not eligible for reimbursement from the existing Petroleum Storage Tank Fund. In addition, the bill provides a quarter of the funding for the installation of a fire suppression system in the tunnels. The remaining funding will come from the Department of Transportation.

Currently the tunnels lack any fire suppression system. A serious fire in the tunnels would not only be a grave threat to human life, but would also have serious consequences for the economies of the Western Slope and mountain communities.

“This bill will help minimize the vulnerability of the tunnels and the impacts from fuel tanker accidents,” Rep. Hamner said. “This will ensure the public safety and protect the tunnels that are valuable assets to Colorado.”

Additionally, this fund will go towards cleaning up petroleum contamination at abandoned and former gas stations. Cleaning up these sites mitigates the risks to Colorado’s groundwater resources and enhances the ability of these properties to be redeveloped and put back into use.

The bill is supported by a wide coalition including the Department of Labor & Employment, Department of Transportation, Colorado Petroleum Association, I-70 Coalition, Colorado Association of Ski Towns, Colorado Counties Incorporated, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Motor Carriers Association, and Colorado Contractors Association.

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