WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao has directed Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials to make $25 million in Emergency Relief (ER) funds available to help Florida address the initial damage resulting from Hurricane Irma. The funds, which will help with repairs on flood-damaged roads and bridges, were approved for release promptly after the request was made by Florida Governor Rick Scott.
“The Department of Transportation will provide Florida with the assistance it needs to rebuild its infrastructure following Hurricane Irma,” Secretary Elaine L. Chao said. “The immediate $25 million released today is the beginning of the Department of Transportation’s long-term commitment to helping Florida repair the damage done to its transportation systems.”
The FHWA ER funds help states pay for the costs of needed temporary repairs and facilitate permanent restoration of service in the weeks ahead. The FHWA’s ER program provides funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. The $25 million in Emergency Relief funding will be used to restore emergency access and to initiate the most critical repairs to damaged roadways and bridges in the next few weeks.
“The quick release of these funds will ensure that Florida’s infrastructure is repaired safely and in a timely manner” said Secretary Chao. “I also commend the Governor and the first responders who saved countless lives by taking swift and appropriate action ahead of and during the storm.”
Additionally, FHWA is identifying and deploying 150 structural engineers to support and to help expedite the Florida Department of Transportation’s efforts to inspect over 2000 bridges and related structures following the storm.
The Department of Transportation and all operating agencies are working closely with officials in Florida and the Southeast region, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as FEMA and Department of Homeland Security to monitor the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma and aide in the rescue/recovery process as necessary. The Department of Transportation’s contributions to the disaster rescue and recovery effort includes financial assistance, deployment of personnel, emergency regulatory relief and all the tools we have to be helpful.