The Federal Highway Administration is providing $29.4 million in emergency funding to repair California highways, roads, bridges and other infrastructure damaged in flooding in December and January, the agency announced Tuesday.
The money is immediately available for use by the California Department of Transportation and four federal land management agencies following severe storm damage that affected as many as 40 of the state’s 58 counties. At least 22 people died as a result of the storms, The Los Angeles Times reported.
“These extreme storms have disrupted millions of lives and livelihoods, with serious damage to key infrastructure that Californians count on,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “The emergency funding we are announcing today will help California remove debris, rebuild roads, restore vital transportation corridors and strengthen its resilience in the face of future extreme weather events.”
Despite high winds, property damage and power outages, the flooding did not close the state’s key interstates, most major highways or ports, according to DAT Freight and Analytics.
While the storms have slowed, they will continue to disrupt the movement of California agricultural products, in particular, DAT Chief Analyst Dean Croke said in the Jan. 11 company blog.
“California’s outbound produce volumes will take a hit,” Croke said, though unless the crop damage is severe, “inbound volume from Mexico and Florida will likely temper the short-term impact.”
Infrastructure maintenance is a critical priority for the trucking industry, whose drivers and trucks carry 70% of the nation’s freight on aging U.S. roads each day. Trucking associations ardently supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Trucking is also well-versed in emergency response, providing aid after Hurricane Ian and other catastrophes.
Most of the California flood relief money will go to other federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Transportation.
How FHWA is distributing aid after flooding in California
|California Department of Transportation
|National Park Service
|U.S. Forest Service
|U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
|Bureau of Reclamation
Source: Federal Highway Administration
“We're grateful for the quick emergency relief fund response from our federal partners in the face of the devastating impacts from these latest storms," Caltrans Director Tony Tavares said in a statement. "Our priority now is to remove debris, repair infrastructure, and reopen our roadways as safely as possible."
Areas reporting significant damage included Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and San Luis Obispo counties, according to the FHWA.
“These quick release funds will help get the roads, bridges and highways that residents and workers rely on back up and running again, and also better equipped to withstand future deluge events,” Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt said in a statement.
The funding is part of an emergency relief program for which Congress allocates $100 million per year, periodically providing additional funds through supplemental appropriations, according to the FHWA’s website.