Transportation infrastructure development provides the foundation for economic development, job creation, and improved living conditions for individuals and families in Indian Country. Better transportation infrastructure will attract millions of Americans and allow them to travel safely through our reservations and Native communities. Increased funding for transportation construction and transit will strengthen tribal communities and make valuable contributions to rural America, helping both tribal and non-tribal communities.

Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) include an inventory of over 140,000 miles of public roads with multiple owners, including tribes, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, states, and counties. IRR are the most underdeveloped road network in the nation, yet they are the primary transportation system for all residents and visitors in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Over 66 percent of the system is unimproved earth and gravel. Approximately 24 percent of IRR bridges are classified as deficient. These conditions make it very difficult for residents of tribal communities to travel to hospitals, stores, schools, and employment centers.

The current transportation authorization, Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), Public Law 109-59, expired on September 30, 2009. Since that time, SAFETEA-LU has been repeatedly extended. NCAI has been closely monitoring transportation issues by forming a joint task force with the Intertribal Transportation Association (ITA).

The NCAI-ITA Joint Task Force has been preparing and advocating for the inclusion of tribal transportation priorities in the next highway reauthorization legislation. The US Congress has held several legislative hearings on the upcoming transportation authorization, and NCAI has testified regularly on tribal transportation issues. There have been many political and budget changes since the last transportation authorization; however, the Joint Task Force is working on ensuring that the next highway reauthorization bill continues to build upon the progress made in SAFETEA-LU.

In addition, NCAI has joined the Transportation for America Equity Caucus to ensure that tribal positions and views are reflected in the Equity Caucus. The caucus is comprised of national civil rights organizations and community development groups collaborating to make certain the next transportation bill will ensure access and create affordable transportation for all people.

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