In September 2017, 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, which were requested and quickly approved on the same day, supplemented the $2.5 million in ER funds awarded to the territory for damages related to Hurricane Irma.
“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 included repairs to bridges, guardrails, traffic signal systems and addressed 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 was 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.