Biden-Harris administration announces nearly $21 million in grants to improve road safety on tribal lands

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration announced $20.9 million in grant awards for 88 Tribal projects that will reduce roadway fatalities and serious injuries on tribal lands. The grants, from the Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund for proven countermeasures such as pavement markings, rumble strips and better pedestrian infrastructure, are one way in which the Biden-Harris administration is investing in communities across the country and addressing the unacceptably high number of roadway deaths, as laid out in the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy.

Transportation-related injuries and fatalities affect Native American and Alaska Native populations at greater rates than other demographic groups, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

“The crisis of traffic deaths on our nation’s roads stretches across the country, and that devastation is experienced at even higher rates in communities of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and other indigenous peoples,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The grants we are announcing today through our Tribal Transportation Program will improve, repair, and modernize infrastructure in communities of all sizes on Tribal land, making roads safer and saving lives.”

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to making it safer for Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians to move throughout their communities by improving the infrastructure they count on to live their lives,” said U.S. Transportation Assistant Secretary for Tribal Government Affairs Arlando Teller. “These grants, made possible through funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, represent our ongoing commitment to serving Tribal communities.”

“The grants we’re announcing today will improve the lives of everyone who lives and travels on Tribal lands,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “We’re pleased to provide funding that can help Tribes install roadway departure countermeasures and infrastructure improvements like road shoulder widening as well as pedestrian paths to make travel for all road users safer while improving mobility, access, and economic opportunity.”

The Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund grant awards announced today, for Fiscal Year 2023, will fund 29 safety plan projects, including grants for seven tribes developing their first transportation safety plan, as well as the following:

  • Grants for 37 roadway infrastructure safety improvement projects, including $300,000 to the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana for the design of safety countermeasures along CC Bel Road, a high-risk roadway where several roadway departure crashes have occurred, as well as at two intersections where crashes have taken place;
  • Grants for 15 data assessment and analysis activities-related projects, including $45,000 to Michigan’s Bay Mills Indian Community, which will conduct a road safety audit for pedestrian facilities in residential areas; and,
  • Grants for nine projects to reduce roadway departures, including $19,969 to the Native Village of Noatak in Alaska to apply countermeasures along roadway curves and at high-risk locations.

The President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides the largest funding level ever for the Tribal Transportation Program, including the Safety Fund, by increasing the total authorized from $2.4 billion under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act to $3 billion for Fiscal Years 2022 through 2026. The USDOT’s Safe Streets and Roads for All discretionary grant program also provides funding to Tribes to develop comprehensive safety action plans, projects and strategies that will prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries.

FHWA also provides comprehensive transportation training and technical assistance to Tribal communities through its Tribal Technical Assistance Program, a discretionary program that is 100 percent federally funded. Under the program, several TTAP Centers have been funded by FHWA to serve the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs regions and associated Tribes as they seek to access funding made available by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as additional Federal transportation funding opportunities.

To further assist the 574 federally recognized Tribes and their transportation needs, FHWA has developed Transportation Funding Opportunities for Tribal Nations, a brochure that provides information on new highway programs created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well as existing highway and bridge transportation funding programs.