In a move applauded by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration this week announced an initial investment of $10 million for the conceptual study, design and development of what will be a new pipeline research, development and testing center in Pueblo.


The facility will be located at the Transportation Technology Center in Pueblo.


"The TTC site and its proven business model offers the real potential to improve the safety of the nation’s 2.8 million miles of gas and liquid pipeline by rapidly expanding the research and innovation capacity of the pipeline industry to a level currently unavailable today," PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliot said in a statement. "We will accelerate pipeline safety innovation as it moves from concept to testing to application."


The proposed testing center is on Federal Railroad Administration property, leased from the state, and managed through a contractor. This site will support the development of new technologies and advance knowledge related to a wide range of pipeline safety issues, including remote sensing and leak detection, damage prevention, small-scale liquefied natural gas, and construction, officials said in a news release announcing the project.


Gardner earlier this week said in a statement that he welcomes the announcement.


"The oil and gas industry supports roughly 232,000 jobs in Colorado and contributes more than $31 billion to our state’s economy, which helps generate more revenue for our counties, schools, and roads," Gardner said. "This new facility will stand to not only create jobs in the Pueblo area, but it will advance pipeline technology to transport energy more safely and efficiently across the entire country."


Chieftain reporter Ryan Severance can be reached by email at ryans@chieftain.com or on Twitter @RyanSevvy. Help support local journalism by subscribing to the Chieftain at chieftain.com/subscribenow