Ravaged by one of the worst winter storms in state history and the Schultz Fire that claimed 15,000 acres in 2010, Northern Arizona will receive the majority of the $29.2 million Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief funds that were recently awarded to the state.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration funds reimburse state and local jurisdictions for the repair or reconstruction of highways, roads and bridges that were damaged in natural disasters and catastrophic failures, including the January 2010 winter storm ($20 million) and the June/July 2010 Schultz Fire ($9.2 million) that struck Arizona.
Currently, there are 40 emergency relief (ADOT and local government) projects statewide that have either been completed or are under way. A few key projects include the $5 million retaining wall repair project on State Route 87 approximately 25 miles south of Payson and the $5.8 million drainage improvement project on US 89 approximately five miles north of Flagstaff.
Extreme snowfall and intense rainfall from the January 2010 winter storm caused millions of dollars in damage across the state, particularly along SR 87 (mileposts 223-227), a vital route that links the Phoenix metro area and Rim Country communities. Excessive water buildup caused landslides and retaining wall damage, which required emergency repairs, some of which are still ongoing.
The ADOT and Coconino County drainage improvement project near Flagstaff along US 89 (mileposts 424-429) was needed after floods following last summer’s Schultz Fire destroyed the vegetation on the San Francisco Peaks. The emergency relief project should be completed this July, just before the summer thunderstorm season starts. ADOT, in collaboration with Coconino County, will continue to work on a long-term solution to this trouble spot.
“The importance of the emergency relief program is to conduct repairs due to unexpected events or emergencies without placing a burden on the department and the available funds for the five-year construction program,” said Assistant State Maintenance Engineer Marwan Aouad. “Taxpayers benefit from this program because we do not tap into state funds available through the Governor’s emergency fund or federal funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance program.”
The FHWA will provide a total of $319 million from its emergency relief program to 28 states, Puerto Rico and American Samoa to reimburse them for damages caused by storms, flooding, hurricanes and other natural events.
“Restoring roads and bridges is critical after a natural disaster or catastrophic event,” Federal Highways Administrator Victor Mendez said in a written statement. “We want states to know that we will reimburse them for work that is necessary to get roads and bridges back in service again after an emergency.”