FEMA obligates nearly $299 million for island roads

By John McPhaul

To date, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has obligated nearly $299 million to the island Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP by its Spanish acronym) to repair damage and optimize commonwealth roads and bridges, including nearly $92 million approved during 2021 to address infrastructure in nearly 30 municipalities, FEMA said in a written statement.

The obligations represent permanent work projects to address more than 250 damaged areas across the island’s roads and bridges.

“Together with the government of Puerto Rico, we are committed to helping repair, modernize and strengthen road safety on the island’s highway network,” said José G. Baquero, the FEMA federal disaster recovery coordinator. “Each project that receives a funding obligation from our agency brings us closer to that goal.”

An element that deals with highway safety is the replacement and installation of thousands of road signs that were damaged by Hurricane Maria. To that end, FEMA earmarked over $28.3

million for a project to replace signs on 238 highways in Puerto Rico, extending 496 miles from San Juan to Aguadilla.

DTOP reported that more than 300 signs and poles have been removed, while the installation of signs and plaques exceeds 3,000 units. The installation of signs in the Ponce and Guayama regions will begin soon, while the manufacturing of signs for the Humacao region continues.

The production of road signage represents a positive impact on the manufacturing sector, since some are made by contractors in Humacao, Guayama, Mayagüez and Ponce, FEMA said.

In addition, over $3.5 million was allocated to repair several roads in the central part of the island. That obligation includes $1.8 million to rebuild three segments of PR-612 in Utuado, including a three-span bridge that suffered severe damage and serves as the main road for residents of the Don Alonso and Caonillas Abajo neighborhoods. It also includes $1.6 million

to repair nine segments of PR-531 in Jayuya.

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