WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCBD) – The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a first-of-its-kind program that will allocate $7.3 billion to states in maintaining infrastructure amid the ongoing climate crisis and during extreme weather events.

South Carolina is due to receive up to $128 million from the newly announced Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Program. The state will receive $24 million in the Fiscal Year 2022.

Officials say the PROTECT program will help states make improvements to at-risk highways and make transportation assets and evacuation routes “more resilient” during weather events and natural disasters.

“In every part of the country, climate change is impacting roads, bridges, and rail lines that Americans rely on–endangering homes, lives, and livelihoods in the process,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Using funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re launching this unprecedented effort to help communities protect their transportation infrastructure from extreme weather and improve routes that first responders and firefighters need during disasters.”   

PROTECT funds will cover projects including existing highway and transit projects, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and port facilities. The funding formula also involves new construction to strengthen existing infrastructure in withstanding weather hazards and other intense dangers that are becoming more prevalent, according to USDOT.

In addition, the program sees to improve the use of natural or green infrastructure to bolster future storm surges, provide flood protection and restore aquatic ecosystems.

More information on the PROTECT Formula Program can be found here.