WASHINGTON — Mother Nature hasn’t been particularly kind to many areas of the nation over the past several years, as numerous disasters have crumbled infrastructure.
To help fix things up again, the U.S. Department of Transportation is coordinating with the White House, which has just announced that it will provide $749 million in Emergency Relief Program funds to 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to a news release.
California is set to receive the most money — more than $250 million — as a result of disasters such as wildfires and floods.
Florida will receive more than $61 million, mostly due to Hurricane Ian, and Montana will receive more than $51 million due to severe flooding.
Extreme weather events were eligible for federal reimbursement under the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) program as the result of major disaster declarations.
“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.”
Natural disasters and catastrophic events often require yearslong recoveries, and the majority of FHWA’s Emergency Relief funding goes toward reimbursement for states, territories, federal land management agencies and Tribal governments to fix and restore roads and bridges in the aftermath of wildfires, hurricanes, flooding and other weather-related events, the news release noted.
That includes damage from events like Hurricane Ian in Florida, rainstorms and wildfires throughout California, hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and flooding in and around Yellowstone Park in 2022. The emergency relief funding package also continues to include funding for repairs to the pedestrian bridge in Washington, D.C., over Route 295 that collapsed when a truck hit the bridge in June 2021.
“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.”
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