Monday, September 25, 2023
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the immediate availability of $4.65 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief funds for use by the U.S. Forest Service to repair damages to federally-owned roadways caused by heavy rain and severe flooding in Tennessee. The funds will offset costs of repair work needed for roads and other infrastructure in the Cherokee National Forest as a result of flood damage caused by heavy rains and flooding last month.
“These emergency funds will help restore vital transportation links in the Cherokee National Forest that were damaged by last month’s floods,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Transportation is an essential part of disaster recovery, and these funds will help clear debris and reconstruct pavement so that emergency vehicles can access the area, and residents can access their homes.”
“The Federal Highway Administration is working closely with the U.S. Forest Service to make repairs and re-establish transportation services in Cherokee National Forest,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “This funding is an initial down payment toward the cost of repairs to help authorities get the work done as quickly as possible.”
In August 2023, the transportation systems on the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee were affected by heavy rains and flooding. Many of the forest roads that are open to the public have been damaged and are impassable by standard passenger vehicles. The damage is so extensive that emergency vehicles and utility crews cannot make their way into the forest to make essential repairs. Furthermore, private homeowners on the Cherokee National Forest cannot access their property and are having difficulty evacuating the area.
FHWA’s Emergency Relief program provides funding to states, territories, Tribes, and Federal Land Management Agencies for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. These “quick release” Emergency Relief funds are an initial resource installment to help restore essential transportation. Additional funds needed to repair damages in Cherokee National Forest will be supported by the Emergency Relief program through nationwide funding allocations.
The FHWA Emergency Relief program complements the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs and provisions by encouraging agencies to identify and implement measures to incorporate resilience in the design, restoration, and repair of damaged infrastructure, so that it can better withstand future damage from climate change and future weather events.
More information about FHWA’s Emergency Relief program can be found online at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/programadmin/erelief.cfm.
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