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Letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta

Location: Washington, DC

Rehberg Requests Expedited Funding
For I-94 Collapse

WASHINGTON, DC - Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, requested expedited reimbursement of funding for the Montana Department of Transportation to repair a collapsed portion of Interstate 94 in Hysham. Rehberg, who plans to inspect the affected area in the coming weeks, made the request in a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Norm Mineta. The collapsed area is estimated be to 80 feet long and 10 feet deep.

"With tourist season rapidly approaching, it's important that the Montana DOT be able to fix the crater as efficiently and quickly as possible without being left in a financial bind afterward," Rehberg said. "I urged Secretary Mineta to ensure the state of Montana isn't left holding the bag for these vital repairs."

Montana DOT will be responsible for the initial cost of repairing the sinkhole, but is eligible for reimbursement from the federal government. Repairs could take up to two months and costs aren't yet known. Rehberg told Mineta in his letter that he's optimistic the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will work cooperatively with the Montana DOT to ensure the state is reimbursed in a timely fashion.

"Not only is I-94 important to the economy in rural Eastern Montana, it's a critical part of commerce in the entire state," said Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "Cattle, grain and other agriculture products are shipped on I-94 along with goods that support Montana's oil and gas industries. Saying this stretch of road is important to Montana's economy is an understatement."

Last year, Rehberg made a similar request of Mineta and was ultimately successful in securing $2 million for the cleanup of Beartooth Highway after severe mudslides and rains damaged the road.

Letter Below:

April 10, 2006

The Honorable Norman Y. Mineta


Department of Transportation

400 7th Street, SW

Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Mineta,

I'm writing to ask your assistance on a matter of great importance to the state of Montana. Recently, a section of Interstate 94 west of Hysham, Montana, collapsed due in part to heavy precipitation in the area. A crater has developed in the roadbed, which has been estimated at 80 feet long and 10 feet deep. This crater has closed both westbound lanes, and may grow to encompass the eastbound lanes as well.

The situation poses an economic threat to eastern Montana, as the majority of tourists traveling from east to west travel through the area use the interstate to link in with the larger population centers in the western part of the state. Additionally, cattle, grain and other agriculture products are shipped on I-94 along with goods that support Montana's oil and gas industries.

I respectfully request your immediate attention to this situation and your assistance in expediting the reimbursement of funds to the state in the event that an emergency is declared. The state of Montana has many important transportation projects in progress this summer, and if warranted a reimbursement should be expeditiously granted, so as to not interfere with Montana's relatively short construction season.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to working with you on this matter.


Denny Rehberg
Montana's Congressman

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