Wednesday, November 17, 2021
WASHINGTON – The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that President Biden signed this week includes historic levels of funding for transportation projects on Tribal lands, reflecting an urgency to address long-standing inequities with new funding for safety improvements and better roads, bridges, and transit on Tribal lands across the country.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is historic for many reasons, including its investments that will deliver better, safer transportation infrastructure in Indian Country,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “My Department looks forward to working closely with our Tribal partners on a range of infrastructure projects that create good jobs, protect our environment, and build a foundation for economic opportunity that will last for generations.”
Highlights of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investments in Tribal communities include:
- Establishment of the Office of Tribal Government Affairs, and elevation of Tribal Government Affairs leadership to the rank of Assistant Secretary within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)
- $3 billion for the Tribal Transportation Program (Federal Highway Administration (FHWA))
- $1.025 billion in dedicated bridge investments on Tribal lands (FHWA)
- $229 million for Tribal transit projects (Federal Transit Administration)
- Eligibility for USDOT’s new $6 billion Safe Streets and Roads for All competitive grant program
SAFETY: Native Americans are two to three times more likely to die in car crashes than any other ethnic group and have the highest per capita rate of total traffic deaths, which is why the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investments in safety and better infrastructure are critical. USDOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is leading a multi-agency effort to address highway safety in the Four Corners Region of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah and in other areas of Indian Country.
JOBS AND EQUITY: Since June, USDOT’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization has been working with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs to ensure Tribes have equitable opportunities to compete for federal contracts as part of rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure.
UPHOLDING COMMITMENTS: This month, USDOT signed an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) stating a commitment to protect Tribal treaty rights and similar Tribal rights in agency decision-making processes. USDOT also signed on as a supporting agency to two MOUs that would both help protect historic properties of cultural and religious importance to Tribes and help preserve Native languages.
WHAT’S NEXT: In the coming weeks and months, USDOT will announce additional resources, including financial, technical, and legal assistance, designed to create jobs and promote safety and equity through infrastructure investment on Tribal and rural lands.