USDOT provides $3 million in Emergency Relief funding to support Lahaina wildfires transportation recovery

Posted: 23 August 2023 | | No comments yet

With the immediately available ‘quick release’ Emergency Relief funds, the Hawaii Department of Transportation is able to offset costs associated with traffic management services and repairs to infrastructure needed as a result of damage caused by wildfires in Lahaina, Hawai’i, in August 2023.

USDOT provides $3 million to support Lahaina transport recovery

On 21 August 2023, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the immediate availability of $3 million in ‘quick release’ (QR) Emergency Relief (ER) funds, the current total QR requested by the Hawai’i Department of Transportation (HDOT), to offset costs associated with traffic management services and repairs to infrastructure needed as a result of damage caused by wildfires in Lahaina on the island of Maui earlier in August 2023.

“The nation watched with broken hearts as wildfires took lives and livelihoods in Maui – and the nation will stand with Maui as it rebuilds,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg. “This emergency funding will help residents get transportation networks back up and running with traffic signal replacements, erosion control, guardrails and more – and we will continue work to protect communities against these increasingly frequent climate disasters.”   

“The Federal Highway Administration has been in close contact with HDOT and will remain so in order to bring the support needed in West Maui,” said Federal Highway Administrator, Shailen Bhatt. “The quick release funding we are providing today will help emergency service personnel, police and other first responders to obtain the equipment needed for traffic management in Lahaina and the surrounding area, as well as resources for repairs to infrastructure in the future.” 

Wildfires that started on 8 August 2023 resulted in catastrophic damage and loss of life in Lahaina. On 10 August 2023, President Biden declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Hawaii and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by the wildfires. 

The funding announced by FHWA will be used for various items that will aid in recovery or to replace damaged and destroyed infrastructure, including portable battery-operated traffic signals; traffic signals; erosion control of damaged areas; signs; guardrails; jersey barriers to re-route traffic and protect pedestrians and workers; and traffic management services by the police. 

FHWA’s Emergency Relief programme provides funding to states, territories, Tribes and Federal Land Management Agencies for highways and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events. These ‘quick release’ Emergency Relief funds are an initial instalment of funds to help to restore essential transportation. Additional funds needed to repair damages to roads and bridges in Hawaii will be supported by the Emergency Relief programme through nationwide funding allocations. 

The FHWA Emergency Relief programme complements the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programmes and provisions by encouraging agencies to identify and implement measures to incorporate resilience in the design, restoration and repair of damaged infrastructure, so that it can better withstand future damage from climate change and future weather events.