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$3 million in emergency relief funds for Montana roads

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Northeast Entrance Road in Yellowstone National Park on June 13, 2022. PHOTO BY JACOB W. FRANK / NPS.

FROM THE OFFICES OF U.S. SENS. JON TESTER AND STEVE DAINES, U.S. REP. MATT ROSENDALE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale today announced $3 million in Federal Highways Administration emergency relief funding for the Montana Department of Transportation to repair roads and highways damaged by catastrophic flooding in Southwestern Montana. The Montana delegation sent a letter to the Biden Administration on June 17 requesting these FHWA funds to support the recovery of affected communities.

“We are just beginning to get an assessment of the full damage that resulted from the catastrophic flooding in Southwestern Montana, but that doesn’t mean we have time to sit around and wait to get relief to communities in need,” said the Montana delegation. “This funding is a critical early step to begin to repair and restore essential roadways that have been damaged or destroyed by this disaster. We urge federal agencies to continue to work hand in hand with folks on the ground and provide immediate emergency support to affected Montana communities so they can get back on their feet as soon as possible.”

The funding announced today will be used for the repair or reconstruction of Federal-aid highways that have suffered serious damage as a result of the flooding in Southwestern Montana. Eligible repair work includes emergency repairs needed to restore essential traffic, minimize the extent of damage, or protect the remaining facilities as well as permanent repairs necessary to restore the highway to its pre-disaster condition.

Earlier this week, the National Park Service announced expedited plans to reopen 80 percent of Yellowstone National Park, making use of $50 million in emergency Federal Highway Administration funding from the Biden Administration requested by the Montana delegation. The park’s northern loop is expected to reopen in two weeks or less following completion of clean-up, repairs and final inspection of the northern loop infrastructure. This will allow visitors to access Dunraven Pass, Tower, Mammoth Hot Springs and Norris opening visitor access to approximately 80 percent of Yellowstone National Park. Additional details on access will be announced in the coming weeks.

The initial $50 million will be used to restore temporary access to Gardiner and Cooke City, Montana and other additional sites. Plans are being finalized for improving the Old Gardiner Road for temporary access between Yellowstone and Gardiner, Montana. In partnership with the Federal Highways Administration, road construction crews and materials that were already in the park for a previously scheduled road project to repair 22 miles of the Grand Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb Geyser Basin will be diverted to the Old Gardiner Road project.

The Montana congressional delegation sent a letter to President Biden, urging the approval of a major disaster declaration and activation of critical FEMA assistance and support for recovery efforts. The State of Montana submitted a disaster declaration request to the federal government on June 15, 2022 in response to major flooding across south-central Montana, which was approved by President Biden the next day. Acting Governor Kirsten Juras declared a statewide disaster on June 14, 2022.

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