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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 073-99073-00; San Diego County
PW ID# 779; Bridge Replacement
May 21, 2012
California Emergency Management Agency
3650 Schriever Avenue
Mather, California 95655
Re: Second Appeal–San Diego County, PA ID 073-99073-00, Bridge Replacement, FEMA-1731-DR-CA, Project Worksheet (PW) 779
Dear Mr. Ghilarducci:
This letter is in response to your letter dated February 18, 2010, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of San Diego County (Applicant). The Applicant is appealing the decision of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) to deny $2,009,282 in funding for a change in scope of work for the Pamo Road Bridge.
From October 2007 through January 2008, wildfires damaged structures throughout the Applicant’s jurisdiction, including the Pamo Road Bridge. This bridge is approximately 21 feet wide and 22 feet long, and constructed of reinforced concrete abutments with a wood superstructure. Fire destroyed the superstructure, but did not damage the concrete abutments. On March 17, 2009, FEMA obligated PW 779 for an estimated cost of $129,526 to replace the wood superstructure on the existing concrete abutments.
The Applicant submitted the first appeal to the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) in a letter dated May 13, 2009. In its appeal, the Applicant claimed that code compliance would require demolition of the existing structure, and replacement with a new 32-foot long bridge. The Applicant stated that its Drainage Design Manual (DDM) requires that bridges be designed and constructed with hydraulic capacity to allow a 100-year design storm to pass under the bridge with one-foot freeboard. In order to ensure compliance with the DDM, the Applicant requested additional funding in the amount of $2,009,282. FEMA denied the appeal stating that the referenced code provisions do not meet all five criteria to implement the replacement of the bridge as a “Codes and Standards” upgrade under Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR) §206.226(d), Restoration of damaged facilities, Standards.
The Applicant submitted the second appeal to CalEMA in a letter dated December 24, 2009, which was forwarded to FEMA on February 18, 2010. The Applicant reiterated its requestfor additional funding to replace the existing bridge with a 32-foot long bridge. The Applicant asserted that there are no discretionary improvements in its proposed scope of work and the County’s design standards meet the FEMA’s requirements. In its second appeal, the Applicant added that the repair versus replacement ratio for the bridge is approximately seventy percent, and stated that this exceeds the required replacement threshold of fifty percent.
Under 44 CFR §206.226(d), Standards, FEMA will fund the repair or replacement of facilities in accordance with eligible codes and standards. The codes and standards must be reasonable, be applied to the type of repair or restoration required, be appropriate to the predisaster use of the facility, be in effect at the time of the disaster, and apply uniformly to all similar types of facilities in the jurisdiction. According to the DDM, exceptions to hydraulic design standards may be made “when the Director of Public Works determines that (1) the strict application of the design and procedures to a specific situation may result in unreasonable requirement for a particular project; and (2) an exception to standard drainage criteria would not be detrimental to public health, life, or safety.” The DDM establishes a process that allows discretion to implement the standard on a case-by-case basis. As such, implementation of this standard is a discretionary decision and is not consistent with 44 CFR §206.226(d), specifically the requirement that standards apply uniformly to all similar types of facilities in the jurisdiction.
It is also important to note that assuming the standards had met FEMA’s requirements, the bridge would not be eligible for replacement and funding would be limited to the eligible cost of repair. The estimates used by the Applicant in its appeal are not consistent with the criteria in FEMA’s Public Assistance Guide (FEMA 322) dated June 2007 for determining if a facility is eligible for replacement under the 50 Percent Rule. The Applicant used a replacement cost of $156,782, which did not account for the cost of the upgrades associated with the standards that it argues should apply to the replacement bridge. The standards apply to new construction and not repairs. Therefore, using the Applicant’s bridge deck repair estimate of $109,411 and replacement estimate of $1,717,918, the repair is approximately six percent of the replacement cost.
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision in the first appeal is consistent with Public Assistance regulations and policy. Accordingly, I am denying the second appeal.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination constitutes the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206, Appeals.
Disaster Assistance Directorate
cc: Nancy Ward
FEMA Region IX