Emergency Funding Needed to Fix SoCal’s Highways after Storm Damage

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Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency across California due to recent heavy storms that caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure. Gov. Brown issued two emergency proclamations to “secure funding to help communities respond to and recover from severe storms that have caused flooding, mudslides, erosion, debris flow and damage to roads and highways” across 50 counties.

The declaration clears the way for Caltrans to seek federal reimbursement for repairs to state highways damaged by the record-breaking rains.

Damage was widespread in Southern California, with the following counties affected: Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura. Riverside County does not anticipate seeking state reimbursement as it escaped relatively unscathed, said county spokeswoman Brooke Federico.

The preliminary damage total of $159 million to state highways includes eight projects with a combined cost of $3.9 million in Los Angeles County and three projects costing $575,000 in Orange County, said Mark Dinger, a spokesman for Caltrans.  He said, “The damage is still being discussed and discovered” and the $159 million total is expected to grow.

Monica Vargas, a spokeswoman for the California Office of Emergency Services in Sacramento, said the highway-driven declaration opens the way for Caltrans to request money through the Federal Highway Administration’s emergency relief program. “The state is trying to do what it can to help communities recover from these storms, which were very strong,” said Vargas, also noting that “damage assessments from the counties are still ongoing.”

Dinger said Caltrans would fund state projects up front, then apply for federal reimbursement.

“The governor’s declaration was requested by Caltrans and covers only state highways,” noted David Wert, spokesman for San Bernardino County, adding that funds for “local aid would require counties and cities to first declare a local emergency.” Donna Boston, Orange County director of emergency management, cautioned that in these circumstances “there is a time clock that’s ticking,” because a county must declare a local emergency within 10 days of an event.

 

Source: Daily Breeze

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