WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) and other members of California’s Congressional delegation introduced the “Transportation Emergency Relief Funds Availability Act” (H.R.3193), which would safeguard federal funding for disaster-recovery transportation projects statewide.
Congressman Garamendi is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill’s original cosponsors include Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA2), Mike Thompson (D-CA5), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA11), Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Jackie Speier (D-CA14), Eric Swalwell (D-CA15), Ro Khanna (D-CA17), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA18), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA20), Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA24), Katie Hill (D-CA25), Julia Brownley (D-CA26), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA32), Norma J. Torres (D-CA35), Raul Ruiz (D-CA36), Gilbert Ray Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA39), Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA47), Harley Rouda (D-CA48), and Scott H. Peters (D-CA52).
“I am proud to join other members of California’s Congressional delegation to stop the Trump Administration from targeting disaster-recovery funding for highway and transportation projects across our state,” said Congressman Garamendi. “Californians are facing increasingly frequent and severe floods and wildfires due to climate change. They deserve nothing less than the full-throated support of their federal government, and that’s exactly what our bill ensures.”
Current U.S. Department of Transportation regulations allow the federal government to claw back “emergency relief” funding for highway and public transportation projects if those projects do not reach construction within two fiscal years of being awarded federal funds. In January 2019, the Federal Highway Administration denied the California Department of Transportation’s (Caltrans) request for 1-year extensions for 66 out of 73 projects statewide. During previous administrations, such 1-year extensions were routinely granted.
The “Transportation Emergency Relief Funds Availability Act” (H.R.3193) would repeal the current 2-year regulatory deadline and provide up to 6 years for transportation projects funded through an Emergency Relief Program to advance to construction. The new 6-year deadline would start following the date on which a disaster was declared by the respective state’s governor or the president.
“I applaud Congressman Garamendi’s efforts to ensure state and local governments have adequate time to utilize federal funds awarded to repair roads and infrastructure damaged by disasters,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “The Transportation Emergency Relief Funds Availability Act will help make sure federal Emergency Relief funds are fully utilized for significant and complex projects to repair disaster damage.”
In addition to Caltrans, the “Transportation Emergency Relief Funds Availability Act” (H.R.3193) is supported by the California State Association of Counties and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES).
A copy of the “Transportation Emergency Relief Funds Availability Act” is available here.
A copy of the Federal Highway Administration’s January 31, 2019, letter to Caltrans Director Berman is available here.
A copy of the 73 “Emergency Relief” funded projects in California is available here.