Eisenhower Tunnel

Eisenhower Tunnel, photo courtesy of Colorado DOT.

Colorado is one of 37 states to receive transportation project grants in the latest round of TIGER, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery competitive grant program, as DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx writes on the blog Fast Lane. Of the 52 projects that will be receiving a total of $474 million, Colorado is getting funding for two projects that will improve road safety, according to TIGER 2013 Fact Sheets.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will receive $10,000,000 toward the $25,000,000 cost of installing a Fixed Fire Suppression System (FFSS) in the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnel, which Colorado DOT writes is about 60 miles west of Denver on Interstate 70. This innovative system will help fire crews to quickly put out fires in the tunnel and prevent major traffic delays, DOT writes.

DOT notes that every year there are two to three vehicle fires inside, or close to the tunnel, and closing the tunnels to assess fire damage and make minor repairs can delay passage through the tunnel for hours, or make it necessary to detour some of the 30,000 vehicles that use the tunnel. The detour is 200 miles long. The new FFSS will make fighting fires in the tunnel safer and easier for first responders and motorists, and will reduce the chance of secondary fires spreading in the tunnel.

TIGER is also providing $2,790,185, the full amount needed to establish a Federal Railroad Administration-defined “Quiet Zone” through two main residential areas of the town of Windsor, which is in Larimer and Weld counties, about a half hour’s drive from Ft. Collins. The Quiet Zone will make 10 railroad crossings safer by upgrading warning devices to help prevent car accidents. The improvements will also reduce noise caused by horns on Great Western Railroad Company trains, which have been disturbing residents for years, often late at night and early in the morning.

A press release from U.S. Senator Mark Udall posted on WindsorGov.com says that he and U.S. Senator Sen. Michael Bennet pressured the Federal Railroad Administration last June to promise to work with Congress to ensure its train-noise and quiet-zone rules protect public safety. Udall says, “This is a victory for Windsor, but I will keep fighting to ensure that the Federal Railroad Administration works with other cities and towns to make its quiet-zone rules less onerous for local taxpayers.”

“Windsor and other towns along the Front Range have been working diligently to establish quiet zones near railroad crossings, and this grant will help keep people safe and provide a little tranquility,” says U.S. Senator Michael Bennet in his own press release posted on WindsorGov.com. “Sometimes Coloradans just want a little peace and quiet,” he says.

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