The Federal Highway Administration is providing a total of more than $500 million to 30 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to reimburse them for expenses incurred repairing and rebuilding highways and bridges damaged by floods, wildfires and other disasters. FHWA also said it is taking steps aimed at the future, to revise its emergency relief program to incorporate making roads and bridges more resilient.
FHWA on Aug. 31 announced the release of $513.2 million from its Emergency Relief Program. It is the second such allocation in fiscal year 2022 and brings the total of FHWA emergency aid released this year to more than $1.9 billion.
“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,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
Most of the FHWA funds compensate for past storms and other disasters, dating back as far as 2001. The allocations do not include funds for the most recent disasters this year, such as floods in Kentucky.
Emergency Relief Allocations
Puerto Rico received the largest share of the latest batch of emergency relief funding, $158.8 million, most of which is for damages caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
California received the second-largest allocation, $95.6 million, for nine individual events from 2014 through 2021, including four wildfires, two statewide rainstorms and “monsoon rains” in 2018 in San Bernardino County.
Michigan ranked third, with $50 million for heavy flooding in 2020 in the central part of the state.
Some of the events for which funds were released were “due to catastrophic failure from external causes,” FHWA said. For example, the agency cited the June 2021 collapse of a pedestrian bridge over Route 295 in Washington, D.C., when a truck hit the bridge.
D.C. is receiving $1.5 million in FHWA emergency funds for that event.
Nearly all of the funding is related to past storms and other disasters.
But FHWA also is taking actions aimed at revising the emergency funds program, with a particular eye on ways to promote infrastructure resilience. The agency said it is is revising its Emergency Relief Manual this year "to spotlight the program's impact on improvements to system resilience."
It also is planning to propose a regulation for the funds program to include climate-related resilience and increase funds aimed at enhancing infrastructure resilience.