U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced an additional $3.7 billion in disaster relief funds to help the four major transit agencies in New York and New Jersey that sustained the greatest damage from Hurricane Sandy.
In addition to supporting ongoing post-storm recovery work, nearly one-third of the money, made available through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Emergency Relief Program, is set aside to help the agencies begin investing in resiliency projects to help ensure that their transit assets — from trains and buses to stations and subway tunnels — are better able to withstand future disasters, such as major floods.
“We continue to work closely with the transit agencies hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy to ensure they can recover from this terrible disaster and emerge stronger than before,” said Secretary LaHood. “The millions of riders in New York and New Jersey deserve a robust public transportation network that can deliver the service they depend on every day.”
A notice published in the Federal Register next week will provide a breakdown of how the funds are allocated to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, the New York City Department of Transportation, New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Of the $3.7 billion in disaster relief funds announced today, $2.4 billion is allocated for recovery and rebuilding projects, while $1.3 billion is dedicated to increasing the transit systems’ resiliency in the face of future disasters.
The May 23 announcement of $3.7 billion in disaster assistance brings the total dollars allocated by FTA so far for all Sandy recovery activities to $5.7 billion, and is just the latest step by the administration to support the ongoing recovery of the communities impacted. Beyond the funds provided by FTA, the administration has provided over $5.4 billion in community development block grants and over $1.3 billion in FEMA assistance provided directly to impacted families, covering eligible repair costs and meeting temporary housing needs, as well as over $1 billion in FEMA funds to support state and local rebuilding efforts.
Before submitting grant applications for the newly announced funds, the transit agencies are required to develop a list of eligible projects and work with FTA to meet eligibility requirements.
“We have learned from the back-to-back impacts of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy that it is vitally important to prepare for the future,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “Investing in the strength of the region’s transit infrastructure now will help reduce the impact of travel delays, disruptions, and economic losses when the next big storm hits.”
Examples of resiliency projects may include elevating storm drains to reduce the volume of water that pours into stations below street level, installing higher capacity water pumps and installing back-up sources of power for lighting, flood pumps and other necessities. Because a significant portion of the seriously damaged transit infrastructure was already aging and technically obsolete, FTA will fund repair and replacement projects that bring transit assets up to a state of good repair.
The FY 2013 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act authorized $10.9 billion in recovery assistance for transit agencies adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy, which was the worst transit-related disaster in U.S. history, affecting roughly one-third of all transit riders. This amount was reduced by 5 percent, or $545 million, because of the mandatory sequestration budget cut that took effect on March 1. The funds are administered by FTA through its new Emergency Relief Program under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).
In March, FTA announced the allocation of the first $2 billion of these funds, which included $576.6 million to affected agencies based on specific emergency response and recovery costs incurred or budgeted to date and $1.4 billion primarily to assist the four transit agencies named above as the most severely affected, based on their projected overall recovery costs.
FTA will continue to work with the affected transit agencies and will make additional Disaster Relief Act funds available for additional recovery and resiliency projects on a competitive basis in the future.