Massachusetts awarded $5 million emergency grant for storm-related road repairs
SPRINGFIELD – The federal Highway Administration announced it is awarding a total of $5.1 million in emergency funds to the state Department of Transportation for use toward repairs of roads and highways damaged by the June 1 tornado and flooding in August from Hurricane Irene.
The $5.1 million is composed of two separate grants, $4.6 million for roads across the state damaged by flooding associated with Hurricane Irene on Aug. 26, and $457, 092 for damage in Hampden and Worcester counties from the June 1 tornado.
The money is to be distributed to projects by the state Department of Transportation to assist with the restoration of regular traffic. It does not specifically earmark funding for any particular roadway or repair job in a specific location.
The June 1 tornado cut a 39-mile path through Hampden and Worcester counties.
Flooding from Irene on Aug. 26 caused heavy damage across the state, particulary in Franklin County where as much as 10 inches of rain fell.
On the surface, the amount in emergency funds would not appear to cover the total cost of repairs from the two storms.
For example, the cost of repairing a six-mile stretch of Route 2 that was washed out from Irene flooding has been put at $35 million. Since October, the state has put the section of roadway on the fast track for repairs. It is expected to reopen in mid-December.
Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation hailed the grants as a step in the right direction.
“Communities don’t bounce back from severe weather on the cheap or overnight, and this investment is a shot in the arm to get our roads fixed,” said Sen. John M. Kerry, D-Mass. said in a prepared statement.
Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass, in a prepared statement, said “Massachusetts has received more than its share of catastrophic weather this year...I am pleased the Department of Transportation has moved quickly to address damaged roads and bridges that are critical to our state’s economy.”
Rep. Richard E. Neal, D-Springfield, said the money will help rebuild damaged roads.
“While more work needs to be done, it is an example that we are getting back on our feet.”
Rep. John D. Olver, D-Amherst, said “Many people in my district suffered great losses and are still trying to rebuild. This funding will help us repair the damage to our roadways and move us forward on the path to recovery.”
Aides with Kerry and Olver said the announced funding may be the first in emergency funding grants to be handed out.
“It’s very possible there could be more later on although I can’t say for sure,” said Kerry spokesman Whitney Smith.
“I can understand how it seems like a drop in the bucket,” said Olver spokeswoman Elizabeth Murphy. “We’re going with celebrating small victories as they come and hoping more is on the way.”