The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the immediate availability of $40 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief (ER) funds to help restore essential service on roads and bridges damaged by Hurricane Maria throughout Puerto Rico. The funds supplement the $2.5 million in ER funds awarded to the territory for damages related to Hurricane Irma.
The funds were approved shortly after being requested.
“Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Maria, so I have directed the Department to release $40 million in emergency funding to begin restoring and repairing the roads and bridges across the island,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. “It is critical to get the island’s infrastructure in working condition as soon as possible so relief supplies and other assistance can be delivered to the people of Puerto Rico.”
Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage to roads and bridges across the island. In addition to restoring essential traffic, emergency work will include repairs to bridges, guardrails, and traffic signal systems and address a variety of damages related to mudslides and flooding.
The FHWA’s ER program provides funding for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. The $40 million “quick release” payment is an initial installment of funds used to restore essential traffic and limit further highway damage, which can help long-term repair work begin more quickly.
In addition to the FHWA’s quick release payment, the Department is taking other actions to help those suffering from the damages caused by Hurricane Maria, including:
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) — On Sept. 19, the FMCSA updated the Emergency Declaration to include additional states that may be impacted by Hurricane Maria. This Emergency Declaration addresses existing and anticipated emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of supplies, equipment, and persons and provides necessary relief. FMCSA also exempted military service members from the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirement so they can drive fuel trucks and evacuation buses evacuation buses without having a CDL. In addition to those waivers, FMCSA will not enforce the $100 registration fee for truck and bus operators who want to apply for a “temporary operating authority registration.”
- The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) — As of Sept. 22, FTA has awarded $8.4 million in critical grant funding to Puerto Rico to support their transit systems on the island.