New York state and local agencies have received $287 million in emergency federal highway aid to reimburse them for costs of repairing roads and bridges damaged by Hurricane Sandy and other storms.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who announced the funding action on Feb. 15, said $250 million of the total will go for Sandy-related work. The rest is for repairs stemming from earlier storms. The aid is part of the $2 billion allocated in the recently enacted Sandy spending measure to the Federal Highway Administration for emergency relief program.
New York’s U.S. senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand—both Democrats— said in a statement that the funds will go to New York state, New York City and Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties, all of which were hit hard by Sandy. (List of Long Island projects covered by funding announcement.)
Under FHWA’s emergency relief program, the agency reimburses state and local governments for road and bridge repair costs they have incurred after hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Schumer and Gillibrand said in a statement that the quick reimbursements will let construction proceed more rapidly, prevent local governments from having to pay interest costs on funds they laid out for the road repairs and also permit other projects to get started.
Federal officials said a provision in last year’s MAP-21 transportation measure also should expedite the rebuilding projects.
Under the new procedure, spelled out in a DOT regulation submitted to the Federal Register on Feb. 15, state and local agencies don’t have to carry out an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment for post-disaster highway or bridge repairs if the project is in the same location as the pre-strorm bridge or road and has “the same capacity, dimensions and design as the original road, highway or bridge.”
The release of the New York funds follows the Feb. 12 announcements of more than $128 million in U.S. DOT aid to New Jersey for post-Sandy highway and bridge repairs and $28 million to rebuild storm-damaged roads and bridges at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and other federal parks and recreation areas in New Jersey and New York.
The Sandy supplemental spending measure, signed into law on Jan. 29, allows FHWA to provide up to $500 million of the $2 billion to an individual state.