FHWA Sends California $2M for Emergency Road Repairs From Wildfire Damages

AASHTO Journal, 25 September 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation is providing $2 million in emergency relief funds to help the California Department of Transportation repair roads and bridges damaged by wildfires that recently spread through several counties in northern California.

The money comes from a quick-release account at the Federal Highway Administration to reimburse states for immediate repairs to roads and bridges after disasters or other catastrophic events.

The fire that started Sept. 12 near Middleton in Lake County and spread to neighboring Napa and Sonoma counties has now affected almost 74,000 acres, the aid announcement said, “with significant damage to area highways.”

Below is a video from Caltrans describing the damage and showing some of the work its crews are doing to restore service to area roads.

FHWA Administrator Gregory Nadeau said: “We want to make sure we restore vital travel links in the region as soon as possible. Peoples’ lives are greatly affected when the highways they rely upon for daily travel are destroyed.”

The USDOT said the damaged highways in northern California include SR-29, closed from Calistoga to the Napa/Lake County Line and from north of Hidden Valley Lake to SR-53, and SR- 175, closed from Middletown to SR-29 near Clear Lake.

California will use the $2 million to help with repair costs to damaged pavements, signs and guardrails and to re-stabilize slopes and embankments on certain highway sections.

The damage so far is expected to reach $19 million, but total cost estimates were not yet complete at the time of the announcement and access was restricted because of active fires. But the FHWA said the emergency funds would help Caltrans begin repair work and restore essential traffic while working with the FHWA to evaluate repair options.

“Emergency relief funding will make immediate repairs possible throughout the area and reopen critical roads again,” said USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We want to ensure that everyone in this region of California has access to safe roads and safe bridges — and this funding will help ensure that travel can get back to normal as soon as possible.”

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