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FHWA Policy Memorandums - Office of Engineering

This order was canceled on July 27, 2004

INFORMATION: Emergency Relief (ER) Program Implementation of Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991

Date: Feb 6, 1992
Associate Administrator for Program Development HNG-12
Regional Federal Highway Administrators
Federal Lands Highway Program Administrator

The ISTEA of 1991 made several changes to the provisions which are applicable to the ER program in Title 23, U.S.C. These changes became effective on December 18 when the President signed the ISTEA of 1991 into law. These changes will be incorporated in the ER regulation, 23 CFR 668A, which will be amended in the near future.

This memorandum is intended to provide interim guidance for the continued implementation of the ER program as amended by the ISTEA of 1991. The major changes are given below.


Section 1006 of ISTEA redefined the Federal-aid systems as the Interstate system and National Highway System (NHS). This redefinition inadvertently made projects on other Federal-aid highways not eligible for the use of ER funds because 23 U.S.C. 125(b) was not conformed to the changes made in the ISTEA of 1991. A technical amendment has been proposed to conform 23 U.S.C. 125(b). In the meantime, for disasters or catastrophic failures which have occurred after the passage of the ISTEA of 1991, it is recommended that damage assessments and field reports be prepared as if all Federal-aid highways (this means highways other than those functionally classified as local or rural minor collectors) are eligible for ER assistance.


The Federal share payable on account of any ER project shall not exceed the Federal share payable on a project as provided in 23 U.S.C. 120(e) as amended by Section 1021(b)(3) of the ISTEA. Generally, this means that the Federal share is 90 percent on the Interstate System and 80 percent on other Federal-aid highways, adjusted for appropriate sliding scale. The Federal share for the territories and federally owned roads continues to be 100 percent.


The time period for 100 percent Federal share for eligible emergency repairs to minimize damage, protect facilities, or restore essential traffic accomplished after the actual occurrence of the natural disaster or catastrophic failure is extended from 90 days to 180 days.


The changes described above shall only apply to natural disasters and catastrophic failures occurring after the date of enactment of the ISTEA of 1991, which was on December 18, 1991. The eligibility of ER funding for disasters or catastrophic failures which occurred prior to the passage of the ISTEA of 1991 will continue to be governed by the law and implementing regulations in effect prior to December 18.


The limit of total obligations for ER projects in any fiscal year in the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands is increased from $5 million to $20 million. This change is applicable beginning with fiscal year 1992.

Questions concerning this memorandum should be directed to Mr. Jerry Poston, Chief, Federal-Aid Program Branch at FTS 366-4652, or Mr. Mohan Pillay at FTS 366-4655, of his staff.

Original signed by:
Anthony R. Kane

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