The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has announced that Transportation Secretary Elaine L Chao has directed Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials to make US$25m in Emergency Relief (ER) funds immediately available to help Texas with repairs on flood-damaged roads and bridges following Hurricane Harvey.
The FHWA’s ER program provides funding to help states pay for the costs of needed temporary repairs for highways and bridges that are damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. The ER funding for Texas will be used to restore emergency access and to initiate the most critical repairs to damaged roadways and bridges in the next few weeks, helping to facilitate the permanent restoration of services over the following months.
The USDOT and FHWA will continue to coordinate closely with federal, state, local and tribal partners to support the local relief and recovery efforts to Hurricane Harvey. The ER funding will initially be used to help repair traffic lights, signage and flood-damaged roads and bridges, following the destruction of transport infrastructure in the Houston metropolitan area caused by Hurricane Harvey.
“I have mobilized the Department of Transportation to provide whatever assistance Texas requires to restore the state’s transportation systems,” said Chao. “The funding provided will help the state to act immediately, and represents the beginning of our commitment to help repair Texas’ affected infrastructure.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “These funds couldn’t come at a better time. The money would be put to use immediately for debris removal, cleanup and repairs to infrastructure. There is still a long road of rebuilding ahead, but this is a great first step and much needed in the hardest-hit communities across Texas.
“More than 1,500 state DOT employees have been responding to the disaster and assessing the impact. The historic flooding has downed traffic lights, damaged roadway signs, and caused highway asphalt to buckle or worse, be swept away in some areas, with more than 530 roads still flooded or closed as of August 29.”
The Texas Transportation Commission’s chairman, Tryon Lewis, commented, “The cleanup after this hurricane will be a huge task, but that the FHWA emergency aid will help TxDOT to fulfill Governor Abbott’s direction to get our highways clear, so Texans can get back to their daily lives.”