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Gov. Hickenlooper asks Congress to raise Emergency Relief Program cap for disasters

DENVER — Monday, Sept. 23, 2013 — Gov. John Hickenlooper is asking Congress to raise the cap for federal assistance under the U.S. Federal Highways Administration Emergency Relief Program.


A letter from the governor to leadership in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives says:


“Under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, Public Law 113-2, the U.S. Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) Emergency Relief Program (ERP), received over $2.02 billion to help states rebuild and repair damages to their highways and bridges. In this bill, states impacted by Hurricane Sandy could receive up to $500 million per disaster in ERP funds; however, all remaining states—including Colorado—were capped at $100 million per disaster.


“Given the widespread devastation to our state highway system, we are respectfully asking that Congress raise this $100 million cap for Colorado as well. As the Colorado congressional delegation stated in a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, there are precedents for waiving or raising this cap. For example, the $100 million was waived in response to damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and Hurricane Irene and the Missouri River basin flooding. Recently, the cap was raised to $500 million for those states devastated by Hurricane Sandy.



“Based on Colorado’s anticipated highway needs and the precedents mentioned above, we ask that you raise this cap for Colorado. Time and again, Congress has answered the call to help communities during times of disaster and loss. The September 2013 floods may prove to be the worst natural disaster in the history of our state, and is likely the worst we shall ever see in our lifetimes. Before we rebuild our homes and businesses, we must rebuild our roads to reopen our communities. On behalf of all Coloradans, please raise this cap to $500 million, so that we may begin this process.”


The letter says communities across Colorado’s Front Range and Eastern Plains are dealing with aftermath of the flooding and destruction. The affected counties include Boulder, Adams, Larimer, Weld, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Logan, Morgan, Pueblo and Washington. It’s an area so expansive that it surpasses that of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island combined.


Early assessments of Colorado’s highway system suggest the damage will cost several hundred million dollars to repair.


A copy of the governor’s letter to Congress can be found here.