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Bridges

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

Disaster4021-DR-NJ
ApplicantTownship of East Hanover
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#027-19210-00
PW ID#4702
Date Signed2015-03-27T00:00:00

Conclusion: Pursuant to 44 C.F.R. § 206.223(a)(1), the Applicant failed to demonstrate that the eastern abutment and bridge superstructure were damaged as a result of the disaster.  In addition, the Applicant’s post-disaster documentation did not show disaster related damage to the bridge’s western abutment. 

Summary Paragraph

In 2011, high winds, heavy rain, and localized flooding due to Hurricane Irene caused widespread damage throughout New Jersey.  The Applicant claimed that, as a result of the disaster, embankments along the western side of the Bridge support undermined the concrete abutment.  FEMA prepared PW 4702 for the replacement of the main support along the western embankment of the Bridge but wrote it for zero dollars as FEMA was getting ready to demobilize field staff and close the office.  FEMA told the Applicant that it could submit additional information for determining eligible funding on appeal.  In the first appeal, the Applicant submitted documentation to show the damage to the Bridge, most of which related to the superstructure of the facility but was associated with the bridge abutments.  The FEMA Region II Regional Administrator (RA) denied the appeal, determining that the work requested to the superstructure of the Bridge was not required as a direct result of the disaster.  In the second appeal, the Applicant clarified that the disaster-related damage for which it seeks funding is related to the Bridge’s abutment and not the superstructure, which the Applicant acknowledges experienced long-term deterioration unrelated to the declared disaster.  With its second appeal, the Applicant’s documentation does not show that the damage to either of the bridge’s abutments was disaster-related.

Authorities Discussed

  • 44 C.F.R. § 206.223 (a)(1).
  • 44 C.F.R. § 206.226.

Appeal Letter

March 27, 2015

Christian Schulz
Assistant Deputy State Director
New Jersey Office of Emergency Management
P.O. Box 7086
River RD
West Trenton, New Jersey 08628-0068

Re: Second Appeal – Township of East Hanover, PA ID 027-19210-00, FEMA-4021-DR-NJ, Project Worksheet (PW) 4702- Bridges

Dear Mr. Schulz:

This is in response to your letter dated January 16, 2014, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of the Township of East Hanover (Applicant).  The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of funding for the repair of the Melanie Lane Bridge (Bridge).     

As explained in the enclosed analysis, I have determined that the facility is not eligible for Public Assistance.  Therefore, the Applicant’s appeal is denied.

Please inform the Applicant of my decision.  This determination is the final agency action on this matter pursuant to 44 C.F.R. § 206.206 Appeals. 

Sincerely,

/s/

   William W. Roche
   Director
   Public Assistance Division

   Enclosure

   cc: Jerome Hatfield
         Regional Administrator
         FEMA Region II
 

Appeal Analysis

Background

From August 27 through September 5, 2011, Hurricane Irene caused high winds, heavy rain, and localized flooding throughout the state of New Jersey.  The Township of East Hanover (Applicant) claimed that, as a result of the disaster, embankments along the western side of the Melanie Lane Bridge (Bridge) support undermined the concrete abutment, creating safety concerns. 

FEMA prepared Project Worksheet (PW) 4702 for the replacement of the main support along the western embankment on the Bridge.  FEMA asserted that the replacement of the Bridge as it stood before the disaster would not be up to codes and standards nor would it comply with New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) standards.  The Applicant intended to replace the Bridge with an improved project in order to comply with current codes and standards and also to build a pedestrian walkway.  The Applicant hired an engineering firm to determine the actual cost of replacing the Bridge as well as to determine the damaged sections of the Bridge as they relate to eligible costs under FEMA’s guidelines and regulations.  FEMA wrote the PW for $0.00, stating that this would “allow for further action by the Applicant to appeal and allow for additional time to submit the required information for determining eligible funding.”[1]

First Appeal

On August 6, 2012, in a letter from the Applicant to the New Jersey Office of the Governor (Grantee), the Applicant provided supporting documentation to establish eligibility for PA funding.[2]  Most of the documentation submitted contained information related to the superstructure of the Bridge. 

On March 12, 2013, the Acting Regional Administrator (RA) issued a first appeal decision, denying relief.  The Acting RA determined that the work requested was not required as a direct result of the declared disaster.  Rather, the RA found that the repairs could only be termed deferred maintenance and were therefore ineligible.  The Acting RA based her decision on the County of Morris Report, Bridge Re-Evaluation Survey Report (Report), which highlighted damage to the superstructure of the Bridge was due to severe rusting with heavy laminations of the steel stringers and noted that the Applicant did not include any documentation that it had taken pre-disaster corrective measures to address the significant superstructure repairs identified in the Report.

Second Appeal

In its second appeal, dated May 21, 2013, the Applicant asserts that its position was misunderstood on first appeal.  The Applicant recognizes that the Acting RA’s first appeal decision focuses on the superstructure of the bridge and its long-term deteriorating condition.  Further, the Applicant notes that FEMA likely focused on this area of the Bridge because the documentation that the Applicant submitted with its first appeal mostly concentrated on the superstructure.  However, according to the Applicant, the damage attributed to Hurricane Irene for which it seeks PA funding is related to the undermining of the bridge’s abutment, not the long-term deterioration of the superstructure, and is documented in the Report. 

Discussion

In general, under Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) § 206.223(a)(1), to be eligible for PA funding, an item of work must be “required as the result of the emergency or major disaster event.”[3]  Such work is eligible to restore an eligible facility to its pre-disaster condition.[4]

To support its argument that the abutments, not the superstructure, were damaged by the disaster, the Applicant provided pre- and post-disaster reports.[5]  However, the pre-disaster report notes significant damage to the eastern abutment and recommends immediate scour countermeasure repair work.[6]  At the time of the disaster, in 2011, the Applicant had not implemented the scour countermeasures to the eastern abutment.[7]  The pre- and post-disaster reports clearly demonstrate that the eastern abutment had significant pre-existing scour damage.  FEMA funding is not available for pre-existing damage because the work is not a direct result of the disaster; thus, the requirements of 44 C.F.R. § 206.223 are not met.[8]  Therefore, work to repair the eastern abutment is not eligible for PA funding.  It must be noted that neither the pre- nor post-disaster reports mention undermining at the western abutment.  The pre- and post-disaster reports discuss damage to the connection between the western abutment and the superstructure.[9]  However, these reports do not conclude that the damage is enough to warrant replacing the abutment nor that it was caused by the disaster.  The Applicant did not submit any additional documentation to demonstrate that the western abutment experienced significant damage due to the disaster.  Therefore, the cost to repair the western abutment, if necessary, is not eligible for PA funding. 

Conclusion

The Applicant has not sufficiently demonstrated that the damage to the bridge’s abutments were disaster-related damage.  As such, the work to repair it is ineligible and the appeal is denied. 


[1] See Project Worksheet 4702, Township of East Hanover, Version 0 (May 21, 2012).

[2] The Applicant provided the following supporting documentation:  (1) Project Worksheet 4702, Township of East Hanover (Version 0) (2) FEMA Narrative RCM 2012-0607, (3) County of Morris Report, Bridge Re-Evaluation Survey Report (July 10, 2009), (4) Three Cheery Webber & associates Reports (dated November 8, October 19, and October 20, 2011), (4) NJDOT, Discretionary Aid Application (April 28, 2011), and (5) Birdsall Services Group, Professional Services, Man hour breakdown. 

[3] 44 C.F.R. § 206.223(a)(1) (2011).

[4] 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(2011).

[5] See Bridge Re-Evaluation Survey Report, Morris County Department of Public Works Division of Engineering, (July 10, 2009) [hereinafter 2009 Report]; see also Inspection of 48 On & 32 Off-system Morris County Owned Bridges, Cherry, Weber, & Associates Consulting Engineers, at 1 (Nov. 8, 2011) [hereinafter 2011 Report].

[6] 2009 Report, at 10-31 (stating the eastern abutment footing was exposed up to 2’-6’ vertical exposure/undermined for a length of 18’ from the south end). 

[7] See 2011 Report, at 1 (stating the eastern abutment footing  was exposed throughout the full length of the bridge and  undermined for a 10’ length at the south end and 5’ at the north end.  The 2011 Report noted that the eastern abutment footing and subsequent undermining was the subject of a July 13, 2009  Priority 2 Memorandum.)

[8] Public Assistance Guide, FEMA 322, at 29 (June 2007) [hereinafter PA Guide].

[9] See 2009 Report, at 10-18 (describing the condition of the bottom flanges of the superstructure at the west span as “section loss on inside of bottom flange” and “severe rusting”); see also 2011 Report, at 2 (referencing “fractured bottom flange connection[s]” at the western abutment).

 

Last updated May 28, 2020