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To help communities rebuild vital infrastructure damaged by extreme weather and wildfires, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $512.2 million in Emergency Relief Program funds to help 30 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
“From recent hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast, to wildfires in California and floods and mudslides in numerous states, we must address the devastating impacts of climate change and work to build more sustainable transportation infrastructure to better withstand its impacts for years to come,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated Aug. 31.
The fiscal year 2022 emergency relief program allocation funding is to enable repairs to roads and bridges damaged by recent storms, floods, wildfires and other events.
Washington state received the highest number of emergency relief allocations for 10 events with a total of $21 million granted for events ranging from severe storms in December 2018 to wildfires in August 2020 and severe heat, winds and avalanches in 2021.
“These funds will help communities across our nation repair roads and bridges damaged by severe weather events, which are becoming increasingly common because of climate change,” Buttigieg noted.
Receiving the highest amount at $95.55 million was California’s nine emergency relief allocations (for the Thomas, Creek, Rye, Lilac and other wildfires, rainstorms, a monsoon in San Bernardino County and an atmospheric river event).
Tennessee received eight allocations amounting to $18.4 million for slope failures, severe flooding, Tropical Storm Fred (2021) repairs and rock slides on Interstate 24 and I-75.
Although Kentucky is still reeling from recent flooding in the eastern part of the state, it will receive $11.5 million in funds for storms, flooding, landslides, mudslides, straight-line winds and tornadoes that occurred in February and December 2021.
Damage from 2020’s Hurricane Laura and the following year’s Hurricane Ida in Louisiana will result in $18.74 million going to that state for repairs.
“Climate change impacts the lives of Americans on a daily basis and has increasingly meant that our nation’s transportation infrastructure is facing more frequent and unpredictable damage from severe weather events,” said Stephanie Pollack, acting administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. She said the emergency relief funding will overwhelmingly go toward repairing damage to roads and bridges.
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Eight states had a single allocation: $6 million to repair remnants from Hurricane Ida (2021) in Connecticut, $1.46 million for 2019 flash floods and major river floods in Illinois, $750,000 for a severe storm and flooding in Iowa during the summer of 2021, $108,000 for 2019 summer storm repairs in Maryland, $7.97 million for repairs from Hurricane Ida (2021) in New Jersey, $1.25 million for basin flooding in North Dakota in March 2020, $3 million for storms and floods from December 2021 in Oregon and $1.5 million for storms and flooding damage that occurred in June 2017 in Vermont.
In addition, Colorado will receive $10.43 million for mud and rockfall during June 2021 on I-70, and disaster assessments.
Federal dollars were also earmarked for nonweather-related repairs. For example, the District of Columbia will receive $1.51 million for damage from a truck striking a pedestrian bridge crossing in June 2021 over Route 295. Georgia will get $5.36 million for a third-party bridge damaged on I-16 and State Route 86, plus $3.9 million for damage from Tropical Storm Fred. A bridge failure in Idaho will result in $1.22 million in aid.