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EPA grant buys 100 e-bikes for Pueblo charity

Steelworks Center for the West will open application for the e-bike in early 2024
Posted at 6:40 PM, Oct 25, 2023

PUEBLO, Colorado — One hundred Puebloans soon have a free, zero-emission transportation option. The Environmental Protection Agency announced the award Tuesday of nearly $500,000 to the Bessemer Historical Society to purchase new Class 2 e-bikes. E-bikes have batteries and electric motors to help riders get around faster.

"It's exciting news, not only for our organization but for the community," said Christine Trujillo, Executive Director of Steelworks Center of the West, formerly Bessemer Historical Society.

Trujillo explained that under the terms of the grant, the e-bikes will belong to her non-profit organization. However, she hopes to work with the EPA to transfer ownership to the 100 community members who receive the bikes.

The group will begin taking applications for the e-bikes in early 2024.

"We're not restricting income, we're not restricting against any predetermined factors," she said. "We really want these bikes to go to those who are most in need."

The Steelworks Center is currently looking for a vendor to purchase the e-bikes. They also plan to build a storage shed on their property on Canal Street.

It may seem unusual for a group known for preserving the city's past to take on such an endeavor. Trujillo explained that it fits the mission of the organization to serve the Pueblo community.

"The CF&I was involved in the community, it had a YMCA, it built houses, it had entertainment, their own boxing club, their own swimming club," Trujillo said. "We're just trying to honor that legacy and give back to our community."

Trujillo said e-bike program has multiple partners. They plan to work with the Department of Human Services to locate potential clients to receive the bikes. The City of Pueblo will also provide GPS trackers for the bikes to collect data about the streets the cyclists use most frequently.

"So, the transit department can start identifying what roads and what streets they can start helping to make more cyclist-friendly areas," Trujillo explained.

EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel will give the charity money to purchase cargo carts that can be pulled behind the bikes helping riders who work in the skilled trades to be able to bring their tools to work with them. The Steelworks Center for the West also Plans to partner with Pueblo Community College to provide bikes to students enrolled in the Return to Earn program.

The grant is one of hundreds of Environmental Justice Projects to receive a share of $128 million as part of the Biden-Harris Administration's Investing in America Agenda.

The grant funding is intended for projects in disadvantaged communities that have historically suffered from pollution and have access to clean air and water and climate resilience solutions.

The Steelworks Center for the West is one of only two grants awarded to Colorado non-profit organizations located outside of the Denver metro area.

Telluride-based EcoAction Partners will receive approximately $50,000 to address environmental and public health vulnerabilities related to wildfire and drought preparedness in San Miguel and Montrose counties.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will also receive approximately $1 million in a government-to-government grant to study drinking water and wastewater systems in rural and underserved areas of Colorado. The project is intended to help small water utilities systems comply with drinking water and waste water discharge standards.
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