WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday announced plans to send $10 million in emergency relief dollars to the state of Georgia to assist with cleanup and repair efforts on a portion of I-85 that collapsed Thursday evening.
The funding, which is being administered by the Federal Highway Administration, is aimed at restoring short-term access to the site, as well as initiating the most pressing repairs to the bridge and damaged roadways over the next few weeks.
“The quick release of these funds will help to ensure the bridge is repaired safely and in a timely manner to prevent any further disruption to the hundreds of thousands of people who travel it on a daily basis,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.
The announcement came hours after Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in Fulton County, which unlocked access to the federal dollars. The governor also spoke with Chao over the phone and met with senior federal and state transportation officials to assess the situation.
Congressional sources indicated that more help from the feds will likely be on the way for short and longer-term repair work after cost assessments are finalized. The hope is that Congress will not need to step in to greenlight extra emergency dollars, which would complicate work. Aides cautioned that the situation was still fluid.
Deal said that despite coordination on the state and national level, “this will be a long process.”
“This is due, in part, to the fact that bridge beams must be cast, poured, tested, transported and individually installed,” he said.