WASHINGTON – Under the leadership of U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) continues to monitor and assist states with responding to devastating and damaging floods and storms in America’s heartland.
Record-setting storms and flooding this Spring have resulted in the closure of dozens of roads and bridges on the National Highway System (NHS) in states throughout the Midwest, including Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.
“We are working closely with our state department of transportation partners to monitor the situation and stand ready to provide any aid the agency can to assist with getting impacted roads and bridges reopen for travel as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Federal Highway Administrator Nicole R. Nason.
The FHWA is coordinating with state department of transportation officials in the affected areas and stands ready to assist impacted states with any emergency relief needs they have, including funding, detour routes and any technical assistance for bridge and/or roadway repairs after water recedes.
In addition to providing financial help to states struggling with the cost of making immediate repairs to damaged roads or bridges, the FHWA encourages the use of 511 systems to alert drivers to changing road conditions, traffic jams or detours. Citizens in the affected states are advised to check their state’s 511 system for the most up-to-date information on road closures.
Damages to roads and bridges caused by recent storms and flooding over the first half of 2019 are among the costliest in recent memory. Since January, FHWA officials directed $54.9 million in quick release funds to help states repair roads and bridges nationwide — roughly three times higher than the $19.8 million awarded during the same period last year.
Snow, wind and rain from the storms impacted communities in several states, prompting evacuations in some areas, particularly along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Federal officials are monitoring severe weather conditions which may present additional opportunities for federal support in the coming weeks.
Each year, the FHWA provides millions of dollars in “quick release” funding to help states pay for repairs needed to restore essential traffic and prevent additional damage at locations impacted by severe flooding, and support efforts to restore traffic and open rural routes.
These initial “quick release” payments are considered down payments on the costs of short-term repairs while the state continues damage assessments for long-term repairs. The FHWA’s Emergency Relief program provides funding for federally eligible highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic external events.