AASHTO Journal

Senate Democrats Seek Transportation Funds in Next Disaster Aid Bill

A group of 28 Senate Democrats asked White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to include, in the administration's next emergency aid request, more funding for highway, transit, aviation and waterway infrastructure repairs in areas hard-hit by recent disasters.

They included those request in a 16-page Nov. 3 letter that sought supplemental disaster funding across many types of federal programs.

pr-highwayclosed.jpg A Puerto Rico highway crew erects a "road closed" sign until it can make repairs.

"Senate Democrats outlined what must be included in a comprehensive package," they announced, "that would allow adequate investment in technology, conservation and infrastructure that will mitigate further damage in future disasters and make our communities more resilient."

The expected next disaster aid package would follow a $15.25 billion measure Congress approved after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, and a $36.5 billion package lawmakers approved in the wake of additional hurricanes hitting Florida and Atlantic Ocean territories as well as wildfires burning in California.

In their letter, the senators specifically asked for more funds for emergency relief programs of the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration to help pay for road and transit system damage costs in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and other areas, plus Federal Aviation Administration grants to aid disaster-stricken airports.

For instance, they said some locations "incurred significant, and in some cases crippling, damage to highway assets from recent disasters and will require substantial assistance to return their transportation systems to safe working order." Puerto Rico alone, they said, reportedly had more than 100 bridges damaged or destroyed.

They also asked Mulvaney to include an emergency funding request for waterway civil works of the Army Corps of Engineers, including channel navigation dredging and to repair Corps-managed projects that were damaged by storms.

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Photo / From Facebook page of Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP)

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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