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FHWA Releases $768M in Emergency Funds

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has released more than $768 million in funds for emergency work on highways and bridges damaged by storms and catastrophic events, in what it says is one of the largest single awards of this kind of funding in history.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced the $768.2 million release of funds, under the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief program, on Thursday, April 6. The money will make its way to 40 states to help rebuild infrastructure damaged by storms, flooding and other natural disasters and emergency situations.

Interstate highway

The U.S. Department of Transportation has released $768 million in emergency relief funding to help states offset the costs of repairs to highways and bridges.

More than $670 million of the funding will go to the 40 states, with the remaining $98 million earmarked for damage done to roads and bridges on federal lands.

Most-Funded States

Colorado will receive the largest disbursement, with $124 million in funding headed to that state to address problems stemming from flooding and landslides that occurred as far back as 2013, according to the agency. Recent rounds of storms, floods and fires have damaged roads and bridges in California, where $105 million in relief will be granted.

Prior to 2012, FHWA ER funds were limited to $100 million per state in a given year, but the MAP-21 act passed that year eliminated that limit. State are eligible for ER funds via a request from their governor or a presidential disaster declaration.

Bridge Fixes Bankrolled

According to federal documents, $2.4 million will go to defraying costs associated with damage to piers of the I-495 bridge in Wilmington, Delaware, sustained in June 2014. That bridge was closed for more than two months while repairs were made; the total cost of the fix was $43 million. The damage was blamed on stockpiles of dirt improperly stored near the bridge by contractors.

And $1.8 million will go to Michigan to cover costs from a September 2014 incident in which a pedestrian bridge was brought down by a waste-hauling truck. That incident resulted in the death of the truck driver; the repairs cost nearly $3 million.

Chamber Way overpass
WSDOT, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr

The FHWA is directing $6.1 million to help with the cost of replacing the Chamber Way overpass over I-5 in Chehalis; the bridge had to be demolished after damage done by an oversize truck in July 2016.

Washington state will get several grants to cover bridge damage from several incidents in 2015 and 2016, including one in July 2016 in which an oversized truck caused millions of dollars in damage to the Chamber Way overpass over I-5 in Chehalis. The overpass had to be demolished, and a temporary structure was built in its place; a new permanent replacement bridge is to be built starting later this year. A total of $6.1 million in ER funds will help defray the cost of the work.

Backlog of Needs

Congress authorized $1 billion in ER funds last December as part of the Continuing Resolution that avoided a government shutdown. The funds address what the DOT calls a backlog of emergency funding needs.

“Transportation is a lifeline for communities struggling to recover from floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. “These funds will help with long-term, permanent repairs, as well as immediate needs to reestablish the transportation networks on which families and businesses alike depend.”


Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Funding; Government; Roads/Highways

Comment from David Kennicutt, (4/12/2017, 7:15 AM)

In 2 of the examples cited, curious why federal funds are being used to address damage was caused by private companies?

Comment from Tony Rangus, (4/12/2017, 10:48 AM)

The gravy train has started. It will be very interesting to see how much infrastructure actually gets completed for the $768,000,000. The contractors are definitely salivating.

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