Senator Menendez Applauds FTA, FEMA Agreement To Address Post-Disaster Transit Needs
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, March 06, 2013, 04:05 PM EST
Chairman of Senate transit subcommittee hails agreement that paves the way for release of critical Superstorm Sandy recovery funding
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees public transit, today applauded an agreement reached by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that outlines the agencies’ roles in repairing and restoring public transportation systems in areas where the President has declared a major disaster or emergency. The agreement is a key requirement of establishing the FTA’s new Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program and releasing the bulk of transportation disaster relief funds for Superstorm Sandy aid.
“Superstorm Sandy brought us the worst transit disaster in our nation’s history, and I am extremely pleased that the FTA and FEMA have taken this critical step to help restore our transit systems and prepare them for future storms,” said Senator Menendez, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
“The sequester threatens hundreds of millions of dollars of this funding, making it even more imperative to end the partisanship that brought it about. But I do want to thank Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate for their leadership and responsiveness to our recovery. I look forward to continuing to work with their teams in the New Jersey, and will continue to work for federal resources to help us rebuild our state better and stronger than it was before the storm.”
FEMA will continue to have primary federal responsibility for emergency preparedness, response and recovery in major disasters and emergencies. The new authority provides FTA with primary responsibility for reimbursing emergency response and recovery costs after an emergency or disaster that affects public transportation systems and for helping to mitigate the impact of future disasters.
FTA continues to work collaboratively with FEMA to conduct damage assessments and cost-validation work in the hardest-hit parts of New York and New Jersey, as well as other regions where transit was impacted.
Senator Menendez helped lead the New Jersey delegation’s fight for federal Sandy relief, which resulted in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which President Obama signed into law on January 29, required the FTA to make available no more than $2 billion in disaster funds within 60 days of enactment of the disaster relief appropriation, which the agency is currently doing. For the remaining $8.9 billion of funds to be released, an agreement between FEMA and FTA and the establishment of emergency relief program regulations by FTA is required.
With the agreement complete, the remaining disaster relief funds will be made available after FTA issues interim regulations, which is expected to occur in April.