The Biden-Harris Administration announced May 18 that it will provide $749 million in Emergency Relief Program funds for the repair or rebuilding of roads and bridges to 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s coordinated approach with the administration, the funds will be allocated to help states repair and rebuild roads and bridges that have been damaged by natural disasters and catastrophic events, including extreme weather events. Extreme weather events that had been declared disasters were eligible for federal reimbursement under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) program.
Most of FHWA’s Emergency Relief Funding for natural disasters goes toward the yearslong recovery process for states, territories, federal land management agencies, and Tribal agencies to restore and rebuild roads and bridges following a disaster.
FHWA Emergency Relief funding is being provided to repair the I-295 bridge in Washington D.C. that collapsed in 2021 and has also been provided to restore damage from events such as Hurricane Ian in Florida, wildfires throughout California, and flooding in and around Yellowstone Park in 2022.
“When natural disasters destroy vital transportation links, it impacts countless people who rely on those roads, bridges, and tunnels every day,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Cleanup and repairs can take years, and these funds are an important way our Department can help get families and communities moving again.”
“These climate events take their toll on communities, often impacting the economic livelihood and the quality of life for residents who are forced to make changes to their daily lives to accommodate damaged roads and infrastructure,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “Through these long-term investments from FHWA’s Emergency Relief Program and new programs available in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will continue to address the devastating impacts of climate change and catastrophic events and work to build more resilient transportation infrastructure.”
The FHWA Emergency Relief Program and its focus on making transportation infrastructure able to withstand damage from catastrophic events reflects the focus of other programs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. One such program is the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Formula and Discretionary Grant program.
This program aims to save money in the long run by reducing disruptions to transportation and improving safety for the public. The FHWA recently announced that it has opened $848 million in grant funding for the first installation of the program. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $7.3 billion in PROTECT formula funding will be available over the next five years to projects building resilience to natural hazards and climate impacts.
Currently the FHWA is taking a vote to amend the Emergency Relief program’s regulations to include improving system resilience alongside climate resilience.
A list of Fiscal Year 2023 Emergency Relief Program allocations with funding information for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico can be found under Emergency Relief Program on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website.
Source: The U.S. Department of Transportation