Padilla Announces Over $60 Million for Climate Resilient Transportation Infrastructure and Evacuation Routes in California

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced that California will receive $60.6 million to help communities across the state better prepare for and respond to extreme weather events like wildfires, flooding, and extreme heat. This funding was made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law which established the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Grant Program.

“As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of floods, wildfires, and extreme heat, climate-smart transportation infrastructure can be the difference between life and death,” said Senator Padilla. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re delivering major investments in underserved and Tribal communities to expedite emergency response and secure reliable emergency evacuation routes while creating more good-paying construction jobs.”

The PROTECT Grant Program funds projects to make transportation infrastructure more resilient to future weather events and other natural disasters by focusing on resilience planning, making resilience improvements to existing transportation assets and evacuation routes, and addressing at-risk highway infrastructure. In general, eligible projects include highway and transit projects, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and port facilities, including those that help improve evacuations or disaster relief.

The list of project applicants receiving funding includes:

  • City of Davis — $23,989,290: The City of Davis will receive nearly $24 million to install cool pavement technologies and replace roadway underlayment to rehabilitate several portions of roadways across 15 project locations. The project will help guard against extreme heat conditions and combat heat island effects, enhance roadways, and make other safety improvements that will benefit all road users, but especially active transportation users.
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission — $20,000,000: The Metropolitan Transportation Commission will receive $20 million to improve corridor resilience and prevent flooding impacts on a 10.4-mile section of State Route 37 by installing sheet pile walls, nature-based and engineered side slope reinforcement, and raising the profile grade at two segments. The project is part of a larger corridor plan that will improve mobility, reduce emissions, and improve safety and public access, serving disadvantaged communities in Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties.
  • County of Tulare — $5,340,000: The County of Tulare will receive over $5.3 million to improve an approximately two-mile segment of Avenue 56 to protect a critical evacuation route for the community. Recent historic rainfall caused significant flooding that prompted the evacuation of the rural Alpaugh community and the construction of a temporary elevated roadway. This project will construct a permanent elevated roadway and widen the roadway to ensure it will be operational during future flooding events.
  • California Department of Transportation — $4,100,000: The California Department of Transportation will receive $4.1 million to develop a plan that identifies evacuation route improvements for State Routes 96 and 169, focusing on resilience elements against wildfire, extreme weather impacts, and other climate related events. This project will improve and protect access for disadvantaged communities, including Hoopa, Karuk, Yurok and Tsnungwe Tribes, to obtain goods, services, and medical care, connection to cultural resources, and emergency access in and out of the region.
  • County of Los Angeles — $3,178,400: The County of Los Angeles will receive nearly $3.2 million to implement Integrated Corridor Management strategies on and around the Castaic-Santa Clarita Valley section of I-5 to minimize delays during evacuations and improve emergency response times to help save lives. The intelligent transportation components include changeable message signs, sensors, closed-circuit TV cameras, advance traffic controllers and communications that will enable real-time traffic monitoring and operations to support evacuation routes.
  • Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians — $2,262,615: The Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians will receive over $2.2 million to address transportation safety deficiencies on the sole access route to a section of the Ewiiaapaayp Reservation. The funds will be used for engineering design, environmental design, and construction for road improvements on a 3.79-mile segment of Thing Valley Road. The project will create a secondary evacuation route for the safe passage of Tribal members and emergency response staff in the event of an emergency, such as a wildfire.
  • Tahoe Regional Planning Agency — $1,749,955: The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency will receive over $1.7 million to develop and implement a Resilience Improvement Plan that assesses the transportation system’s vulnerabilities in the face of wildfires, extreme winter weather events and other emergencies. The project also will upgrade the region’s communications infrastructure to ensure that transportation and utility entities, fire service, law enforcement, environmental organizations and community-based groups can benefit from an integrated, efficient, safe evacuation during emergencies.

In 2022, Senator Padilla announced over $631 million over five years for the PROTECT Formula Program. Padilla previously authored an amendment included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to ensure that vegetation management along roadways, a critical activity to help prevent wildfires in California, is eligible under the PROTECT Program.

Padilla’s legislation directing DOT, in consultation with FEMA, to develop guidelines for state and local governments to improve emergency evacuation preparedness was signed into law as part of the FY 2024 appropriations package.


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