CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced Thursday it is making $65 million in “quick release” emergency relief funds available to help with repairs following historic flooding in and around Yellowstone National Park.
The National Park Service will receive $60 million of the funds, while $3 million will go to the Montana Department of Transportation and $2 million will go to the Wyoming Department of Transportation. The money is intended to help repair roads and bridges damaged by flooding that led to the June 13 closure of Yellowstone. The NPS’s allotment of emergency relief funding is an increase of $10 million from the $50 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration announced last week.
Yellowstone reopened three entrances and its south loop on Wednesday, but the North and Northeast Entrances and north loop remain closed due to significant damage to roads and bridges from flooding, rockslides and mudslides.
“Each year Americans look forward to spending time in Yellowstone, and for the nearby communities, their tourism is a vital part of the regional economy,” U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg said in Thursday’s press release. “We’re committed to providing immediate assistance with this emergency relief funding, to get roads and bridges in Yellowstone and the surrounding area that were damaged in this recent wave of flooding fixed as quickly as possible.”
The flooding damage is a setback for tourism in communities around Yellowstone, Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said.
“These floods are also a grim omen of what is to come if we do not take immediate action to combat the root causes of climate change and work to make certain our infrastructure is prepared to handle more frequent and severe weather,” Pollack added. “This quick release funding will help address critical repairs needed in Yellowstone National Park and beyond, and we stand prepared to support their long-term rebuilding needs.”
The Federal Highway Administration is working with state and federal officials to assess damage and provide funding assistance, and more could be provided.
“These ‘quick release’ Emergency Relief funds are an initial installment of funds toward restoring this essential transportation link,” the press release said. “Quick release funds will be used by the National Park Service to reopen roads and prevent further damage in the park, which is located largely in the northwest corner of Wyoming, extending into Montana and Idaho.
“Additional funds from the Emergency Relief program may be available later for repairs to Yellowstone National Park and surrounding States to ensure roads and bridges can safely and expeditiously reopen. FHWA also is providing technical assistance to the National Park Service.”
NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect that the NPS’s allotment of emergency relief funding is an increase of $10 million from the $50 million in funding from the Federal Highway Administration announced last week.