Posted at: 09/21/2013 5:29 PM
Updated at: 09/21/2013 9:27 PM
By: Johnny Cordoba, KOB 4
WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, welcomed the news that the U.S. Department of Transportation will make immediately available $2 million in emergency relief funds to help New Mexico cover the costs of repairing roads and bridges damaged by the severe storms this month.
“Communities across our state are cleaning up from devastating floods, and many are facing expensive repairs to roads and bridges and other public infrastructure that is critically important in their daily lives," Udall said. "We have many weeks and months of cleanup ahead. I'm very glad that the DOT is making available an initial pool of emergency funds, and I'm committed to doing everything I can to ensure the federal government keeps its pledge to provide the resources and assistance New Mexico needs to help make our communities whole again."
Earlier this week, Udall and the entire New Mexico congressional delegation wrote letters to the president supporting requests by the state and Santa Clara Pueblo for disaster assistance related to severe storms in July. The lawmakers also urged the president to work with the state and tribal governments to ensure a full and prompt response to the September storms.
According to the U.S. DOT, repairs from the September storms are so far estimated to be at least $9 million. The number is expected to increase as officials continue to assess the damages.
The initial $2 million will be provided through the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Emergency Relief Program. It will be used to reimburse the state for emergency work. Roads and bridges in counties and tribal jurisdictions across the state were washed out or severely damaged, including a section of I-40 about 30 miles west of Albuquerque, where a sinkhole formed. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Udall is a strong supporter of emergency assistance to states and local and tribal governments.
According to the U.S. DOT, FHWA will provide additional funds in the future as permanent repairs are identified and cost estimates are completed.