Transportation Dept. grants Puerto Rico $40M for road, bridge repair

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The Transportation Department is providing $40 million to Puerto Rico for emergency road and bridge repairs as the island deals with the fallout from Hurricane Maria. 

The Federal Highway Administration said Thursday that it would immediately make the emergency relief funds available to the U.S. territory to help restore service on roads and bridges badly damaged by the storm.

The funds were requested earlier Thursday and approved immediately. The Trump administration faced scrutiny earlier this week for what critics said was a lackluster and delayed response to the devastation wrought by Maria. 

“Puerto Rico was hit hard by Hurricane Maria, so I have directed the Department to release $40 million in emergency funding to begin restoring and repairing the roads and bridges across the island,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said. 

{mosads}“It is critical to get the island’s infrastructure in working condition as soon as possible so relief supplies and other assistance can be delivered to the people of Puerto Rico,” she added.

The $40 million in “quick release” funds is intended to restore essential traffic on Puerto Rico’s roads and limit further damage, in order to facilitate long-term repair work and recovery efforts. 

Also on Thursday, the White House announced that it would temporarily waive the Jones Act, a nearly-100-year-old shipping law that requires U.S. vessels to be used to ship goods between U.S. ports. Puerto Rico’s governor had said that the law hindered aid from reaching the island. 

Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico earlier this month, further damaging an island already hurting from Hurricane Irma. More than a week after the hurricane struck, most of the territory remains without power and travel to and from the island is severely limited. 

Tags Elaine Chao Hurricane Irma Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico Transportation Department
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