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While the 2020 presidential contest dominates national headlines, the Senate election cycle is highlighting freight transportation and infrastructure policy of states with key commercial corridors.
Republicans currently control the Senate, and will need to hold on to seats in states such as Colorado to retain that control.
In recent years, Colorado’s transportation infrastructure has been highlighted by upgrades to the airport in Denver as well as many other recent infrastructure improvements. Modernization projects that have helped with the flow of traffic for truckers and commuters alike are the result of decades of hard-fought negotiations and heavily debated funding decisions. Officials at the federal, state and local levels contributed to the outcomes of these major public works projects.
During Sen. Cory Gardner’s first term in Washington, transportation improvement programs have advanced in the state. With a seat on the Commerce Committee trucking policy panel, the incumbent Republican pursuing re-election in a shifting political landscape has introduced legislation that would suspend a tax on the purchase of new trucks. The tax suspension is a priority across the trucking industry.
His Democratic challenger is former Gov. John Hickenlooper.
To tackle the trucking industry’s driver shortage, Gardner joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), to introduce a measure designed to highlight career opportunities in every transportation sector. The Promoting Service in Transportation Act specifically would direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to launch a campaign emphasizing potential benefits in careers in trucking, at ports and in freight rail. House policymakers introduced a similar bill.
Gardner has touted federal grants the state recently received for expansion projects along freight corridors, such as Interstate 70. The funds would be used to assist state agencies to rebuild and repair myriad sections of highway and truck ramps.
“Colorado’s growing population and economy demand our transportation systems keep pace,” Gardner said. “Pilots, bus drivers, truck drivers, technicians and more are needed to support Colorado’s transportation priorities, and this bipartisan legislation is aimed at helping connect workers in the Centennial State to transportation job opportunities.”
Gardner also has championed the expansion of access to rural broadband. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced more than $6 million to help fund connectivity efforts. Republicans have pushed for greater access to broadband.
Gardner recently observed, “The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the digital divide that exists in many of our rural communities, and it’s more important than ever to keep Colorado residents connected to reliable and speedy broadband, no matter which corner of the state they happen to live in.”
High-speed internet connectivity is significant for trucking too. Fleet managers and drivers are increasingly reliant on onboard technology and tracking data to effectively run their businesses.
Hickenlooper highlights a background in running the state’s administration, as well as his mayorship in Denver prior to that, as proof of his ability to provide for constituents.
The former governor said he champions policy that would address climate change, such as advancing severe-weather resilient infrastructure.
“The climate crisis isn’t coming; it’s here, and it is already wreaking havoc,” he said. “Here’s what it means for Colorado. Record-setting wildfires across Colorado have burned nearly 300,000 acres, our air quality is hazardous, thick clouds hang over our communities, and birds are literally falling out of the sky as part of a massive die-off. There’s no denying that the fires are significantly more intense this year than in the past.”
Over the past few episodes, we've had the chance to listen to the experiences of industry leaders and the strategies and planning that go into finding the right people for your workforce. Host Michael Freeze reviews the most important bullet points, from technician and driver training to incorporating diversity in recruitment and retention. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
He continued, “We’ve had three of the worst fires in our history in this past year.”
The Colorado Senate contest has garnered millions of dollars in political contributions to fund ads on local airwaves. As they pursue support from voters, it remains challenging for any candidate to make a clear runaway in the Centennial State.
In the meantime, Gardner and Hickenlooper continue to respond to Rocky Mountain economic and transportation concerns.
In the nation’s capital, the Republicans direct the floor schedule, the confirmation process for President Donald Trump’s nominees and the fate of big-picture policies. In the next session of Congress, the Senate is expected to debate an update of the country’s premier highway law, which expires in September 2021.
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