As part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s coordinated approach to helping states repair and rebuild roads and bridges that have been damaged by catastrophic events, including increasingly frequent extreme weather events, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that it will provide $749 million in Emergency Relief Program funds to 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. These 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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s coordinated approach to rebuilding more resilient infrastructure, the Emergency Relief program complements other programs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help make our transportation infrastructure better able to withstand damage from future weather events and catastrophic events.
Specifically, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law addresses the future resiliency of transportation infrastructure in the face of climate change through new programs and expanded eligibilities, including the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Formula and Discretionary Grant programs.
FHWA recently announced that it has opened applications for $848 million in competitive grant funding through the first round of the PROTECT Discretionary Grant Program.
By funding projects that improve resilience to natural hazards and climate change impacts, the PROTECT Discretionary Grant Program aims to reduce damage and disruption to the transportation system and improve the safety of the traveling public, saving money in the long run. In addition, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes $7.3 billion over five years in PROTECT formula funding to states.
FHWA is updating its Emergency Relief Manual to spotlight the program’s impact on improvements to system resilience. The agency has also embarked on a rulemaking to amend the FHWA Emergency Relief program regulations to incorporate climate resiliency while making it possible to use more ER funds toward improving system resilience.
A listing of FY 2023 Emergency Relief Program allocations with funding information for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico can be found here.