BURLINGTON, VT — Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Peter Welch (D-VT) and Representative Becca Balint (VT-AL) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg this past Friday, calling on the Department of Transportation (DOT) to support the State of Vermont’s request for immediate and robust assistance to help Vermont rebuild and recover from the recent devastating flooding. The congressional delegation urged Secretary Buttigieg to activate aid through DOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Emergency Relief (ER) program to help fund repairs and improvements to roads, bridges, culverts, and other impacted infrastructure across the state, including the 93-mile Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
“We are grateful for the show of support provided by your Department and the rest of the Biden Administration and urge a speedy approval of flexible FHWA ER funds requested by Vermont — so that the state and individuals impacted by the floods can begin to rebuild,” the letter read. “We are confident that, with your support, Vermonters will come through this stronger and more resilient.”
Funding from the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief program can support repairs to roads and other federal-aid infrastructure damaged during natural disasters. In Vermont, where roads, bridges, and trails remain closed across the state due to damage from recent flooding, landslides, and mudslides, funds would provide essential support for the state’s recovery efforts. The program also supports improvements to protective features that will minimize future damage from natural disasters, improve resilience to climate change, and ensure greater reliability of local infrastructure in the future. The letter also asked DOT to allow a longer timeline to grant Vermont 100% federal reimbursement for project costs under the FHWA ER program than the current 270-day period, given that the state cannot undergo construction in the winter season.
Said Governor Phil Scott: “The damages to the State Highway system from the July storms are substantial. Financial assistance from the Federal Highway Administration through the Emergency Relief Program is essential to ensure we’re able to rebuild our highway network stronger and more resilient. I appreciate the continued support from the Department of Transportation, Secretary Buttigieg, and the hard work of our congressional delegation on behalf of Vermonters.”
Secretary Buttigieg traveled to Vermont to survey flood damage on July 17.
To read the full text of the lawmakers’ letter, please click here.