The transportation infrastructure in Native American reservations and communities are the most undeveloped in the nation. The Indian Reservation Roads consists of over 140,000 miles of public roads with over 66 percent,12,650 miles, made up of unimproved earth and gravel and 24 percent of their bridges are defective and unsound. This disrepair of their primary transportation system hampers residents of tribal communities to travel to hospitals, stores, schools and employment centers, discourages visitors and hurts the overall quality of life for all rural tribal and none tribal communities.

Research shows that over the past 25 years 5,962 fatal vehicle crashes occurred on Indian Reservation Road with 7,093 lives lost.

Since the majority of funding to improve the transportation infrastructure on tribal lands must be authorize and funded through the Department of Transportation, 172 applications from 128 recognized tribes were submitted to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under the Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund (TTPSF).

Transportation funds on the way

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced Monday that more than $9 million will be provided to 74 tribes in 20 states for 77 projects for safety planning and roadway improvements. This funding for transportation construction and development will not only improve tribal transportation, but will also help in economic development, job creation and improve living conditions for tribal residents.

Some of the funding will go to the following projects:

  • Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians in the state of Washington will receive $311,000.00 for their Safety Engineering Improvements Project: 236th Street NE Corridor,
  • The South Dakota Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe will receive $380,000.00 to begin the Flandreau 3 Mile Road Pathway ‐ Phase 1,
  • The Navajo Nation in New Mexico will receive $72,000 to improve safety by installing additional signs and rehabilitating nearly 30 miles of pavement on one of the state’s most dangerous roads,
  • The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa will receive $156,560 to build the West Village frontage road,
  • The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana will receive $438,531 to install and upgrade guardrail at 21 locations.

Secretary Chao stated, “These funds will assist tribal communities in building a system that improves safety for the traveling public and provides residents increased access to greater long-term economic opportunity.”