Funds will help Arkansas address ongoing impacts of climate change and severe weather

WASHINGTON – In an ongoing effort to help states repair and rebuild critical infrastructure that residents and businesses rely on following extreme weather events that are becoming more frequent, hard to predict, and severe due to a changing climate, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced that it will provide $11.9 million in Emergency Relief Program funds to Arkansas. The funds will be used to reimburse the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department and the Forest Service for repairs to roads and bridges damaged by flooding in the Northwest part of the state in 2021 and Ozark-St.Francis National Forest in 2021.

The funds provided to Arkansas are part of an overall $513.2 million in Emergency Relief Program funding package to help 30 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico make repairs to roads and bridges damaged by storms, floods, wildfires and other events in recent years.

“These funds with help communities across our nation repair roads and bridges damaged by severe weather events, which are becoming increasingly common because of climate change,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “From recent hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast, to wildfires in California and floods and mudslides in numerous states, we must address the devastating impacts of climate change and work to build more sustainable transportation infrastructure to better withstand its impacts for years to come.”

“Climate change impacts the lives of Americans on a daily basis and has increasingly meant that our nation’s transportation infrastructure is facing more frequent and unpredictable damage from severe weather events,” Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said. “The Emergency Relief funding this Administration is announcing today will overwhelming go toward repairing damage caused by these extreme weather events tied to climate change as we work with states to repair roads and bridges relied upon by communities across the country.”

The Emergency Relief program complements the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive approach to combatting climate change and mitigating its ongoing effects by encouraging transportation agencies to identify and implement measures that make restored infrastructure more resilient and better able to withstand damage from future events. Specifically, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law addresses the future resiliency of transportation infrastructure in the face of climate change through new programs and expanded eligibilities, including the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) program. The PROTECT program will advance the use of materials and structural techniques to ensure highways are better prepared to withstand extreme events.

FHWA is taking additional steps to tackle climate change by updating its Emergency Relief Manual for 2022 to spotlight the program’s impact on improvements to system resilience. The agency has also embarked on a rulemaking to amend the FHWA Emergency Relief program regulations to incorporate climate resiliency while making it possible to use more ER funds toward improving system resilience.

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