ALEXANDER COUNTY, IL — The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that $871.2 million in federal money will be going to states across the country, including counties in the Local 6 viewing area, to help repair roads and bridges devastated by natural disasters.
The Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration says the emergency relief funds will go to 39 states, as well as American Samoa, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and tribal governments. Of the $871.2 million in federal funds, $134,699,934 will be used to repair roads and bridges in Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois.
The department says $4,980,000 will go toward repairs in Illinois. This includes $980,000 for Illinois federal lands and $4 million for 34 Illinois counties, including Alexander, Jackson and Union Counties in the Local 6 viewing area.
About half of the $4 million will be used in Alexander County alone to repair Miller City Road and Grapevine Trail, according to Alexander County Highway Department Engineer Jeff Denny.
Miller City Road, in particular, has been devastated by floodwaters that came in as a result of the Len Small Levee breach. Large sections of the road have collapsed or crumbled, forcing the area to be closed off to traffic.
"The end of July, people with the Federal Highway Administration came down. The water level finally got low enough where you to see the road and kind of assess the damage," said Denny. "It was not gonna' be good, but it was definitely significantly worse than I anticipated."
Denny said E.T. Simonds Construction Company, based in Carbondale, is expected to begin repairing Miller City Road next week. Denny believes there is enough money to cover the work. But should there be cost overruns, the county can apply for additional funding. Denny added that once the road is fixed, its design will allow it to withstand flooding better.
But with the Len Small Levee still broken, there are concerns that severe flood damage will happen again.
"The ultimate goal is to get the levee fixed. And then, the road, you know, we know it will be good. But there's no real timetable on getting funding for the levee at this point," said Denny.
Denny said the Len Small Levee breached in 1993, causing heavy damage to Miller City Road. The latest breach happened in January 2016. The cost to fix the levee was estimated at $16,596,000, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided that the benefit-cost ratio was too low to justify repairing it.
The Department of Transportation says $109,828,598 in federal money will be used to repair roads and bridges in Tennessee, $11,696,336 will cover repairs in Missouri, and $8,195,000 will go toward repairs in Kentucky.
For a more comprehensive breakdown of the distribution of funds, click here.
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