USDOT Releases Relief Funds to Aid States’ Disaster Recovery Efforts

AASHTO Journal, 5 September 2014

Cars abandoned on I-75 at Woodward Avenue north of Detroit after heavy rains last month. Michigan Department of Transportation received $750,000 to aid in repairing roads and bridges damaged by the flooding. Photos courtesy MDOT Facebook.

August storms, fires and earthquakes kept transportation departments busy around the country. The U.S. Department of Transportation this month made Federal Highway Administration emergency relief funds available to four states – Michigan, Tennessee, Washington and California – to aid those states’ recovery from recent disasters.

FHWA’s Emergency Relief program provides funds for the repair or reconstruction of federal-aid roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. The agency will provide additional funds as permanent repairs are identified and cost estimates are completed.

The Michigan Department of Transportation received $750,000 to aid in repairing roads and bridges damaged by rainfall in the Detroit metro area. The Detroit metro area experienced significant rainfall on August 11 that resulted in widespread flooding and roadway damage in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties – causing extensive pavement and roadside infrastructure damage on I-75, I-94 and the I-75/696 interchange. Pavements, guardrails, ramps and bridge slopes were completely washed out on those interstates.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation received $1 million to cover the costs of repairing the I-65 bridge over Peytonsville Road, located in the city of Franklin south of Nashville, which was damaged by a truck fire. A tanker truck carrying fuel crashed and then exploded under an I-65 overpass bridge at the Exit 61/Peytonsville Road Interchange south of Nashville. The existing bridge was under contract for replacement, and the fire also significantly damaged part of the replacement structure that was under construction but not yet open to traffic. What was left of the bridge was completely demolished for safety reasons – leaving residents, businesses and emergency crews without a simple way to cross I-65 in the town of Franklin.

The Washington State Department of Transportation received $750,000 to cover the costs of repairing roads damaged by flash flooding in Twisp, Wash., in Okanogan County. Recent heavy rains in Okanogan County, in the state’s north-central region, resulted in flash flooding on ground already burned by wildfires. The floods ripped through steep terrain that was scorched and lacking in vegetation, severely damaging portions of S.R. 20 and S.R. 153 and completely washing out several other segments.

Caltrans received $2 million to help cover repair costs for roads and bridges damaged by an earthquake in California’s Napa Valley.

Caltrans identified numerous locations with damage to bridges and roadways, with preliminary cost estimates already totaling at least $10 million. The recent 6.0 magnitude earthquake caused widespread surface cracking on roadways, such as S.R. 121 north of the Sonoma/Napa County line at Cuttings Wharf, and significant stress to joints on bridges, including the Napa River Bridge on S.R. 29.

All bridges are safe and open to traffic. The state’s primary focus is determining whether bridge joints should be repaired or replaced.

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