U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet spent a recent morning visiting Sandstone Ranch in southwest Douglas County and learning about the 18-mile stretch of I-25 known as the Gap that is under construction.
“It’s really a fundamental part of doing my job,” Bennet said about of the Jan. 11 visit to the county.
Bennet — a Democrat who has represented Colorado in the Senate since 2009 — added that the idea for a recent conservation bill he introduced, called the Outdoor Restoration Force Act, came from a tour just like this.
“At Sandstone what stood out was the vision of Douglas County … to preserve that iconic open space so close to where so many people live,” Bennet said. “That’s a very, very rare thing to see in our country.”
Bennet was also briefed on construction progress for the portion of I-25 between Castle Rock and Monument. The Gap project was made possible in part by a $65 million infrastructure grant that he and former Sen. Cory Gardner helped secure in 2018.
“This is the result of a collaborative effort to fund this project,” he said. “It’s wonderful to have the chance to be on the ground and be briefed about how the implementation is actually going.”
Bennet learned that the project is, so far, ahead of schedule, with 6 miles completed and more than half of the paving finished.
“Everyone is focused on getting this thing done as fast as we possibly can,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT.
Commissioners Lora Thomas and Abe Laydon, who accompanied the senator on his visits in the county, answered questions and added comments on the significance of the I-25 project.
Thomas, who was a state trooper from 1984 to 2003, used to patrol this section of interstate.
“In 1987 a state trooper was killed right at the county line … and I arrested the driver that killed him. And then just before this project started there were two more state troopers that were killed,” she said. “When I became a commissioner this became my personal goal to get the funding to get this road done.”
She went on to explain 1A, the ballot item approved by voters in 2019 that allowed the county to move 0.18% of their 1% sales tax from the justice center to roads.
After the presentations, Bennet also spoke about the recent insurrection in Washington, D.C., where a pro-Trump mob occupied the U.S. Capitol for several hours.
“What we need to do in order to reject this is work together in a bipartisan way to be honest with the people we represent,” he said. “Even when that’s hard or we disagree.”
He added that he thinks it’s time for President Donald Trump to step down from office.
“I think that he is unfit for office and I just think we’d all be better off if he moved on,” he said.
Bennet added that he values his relationship with Douglas County, a conservative stronghold.
“I have treasured the working relationship that I’ve had with the Douglas County commissioners and the work we do together,” he said. “The fact that I’m a Democrat and they’re Republicans isn’t particularly relevant.”
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