U.S. Department of Transportation Provides $8 Million in "Quick Release" Emergency Funds to Puerto Rico

Sept. 29, 2022
The emergency funds will help with repair work after Hurricane Fiona

The U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced yesterday the release of $8 million in "quick release" Emergency Relief (ER) funds to be used by the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (PRHTA)The funds will offset costs of repair work needed from the flooding and landslide damage to highways and bridges in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Fiona.

“Today’s announcement will help the people of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, which has claimed lives and damaged infrastructure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These emergency funds are a down payment to help Puerto Rico clear debris and reopen as many roads and bridges as possible, so citizens and emergency personnel can get where they need to go safely.”

“The Federal Highway Administration is working closely with the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority to repair the damage caused to roads and bridges by flooding in multiple locations across the island,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The quick release funding we are providing will help get those repairs started as soon as possible and better prepare this area for future flooding events.”

According to a press release from USDOT, Hurricane Fiona touched down on September 18 of this year, and caused historic flooding due to heavy rainfall and high winds. The flooding caused large landslides and bridge collapses on main roads throughout the island, necessitating detour roads to establish access to isolated communities, along with structure repairs and scour protection. Early estimates indicate that the Federally-eligible damage will exceed $35 million.

FHWA’s Emergency Relief program provides funding to States, territories, Tribes, and Federal Land Management Agencies for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. These “quick release” Emergency Relief funds are an initial installment to help restore essential transportation. Additional funds needed to repair damages to Puerto Rico will be supported by the Emergency Relief program through nationwide funding allocations. FHWA is also providing technical assistance, conducting site assessments, and administering emergency contracts for PRHTA.

The FHWA Emergency Relief program complements the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) by encouraging agencies to identify and implement measures to incorporate resilience in the design, restoration and repair of damaged infrastructure, in order to better withstand future damage from climate change and future weather events.

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Source: USDOT