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Standing Rock Sioux Tribe signs $26.5M road deal
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy on Monday announced that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has signed a project agreement that will enable the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to access up to $26.5 million to construct new community streets and roads on the reservation.

Pomeroy, a Democrat, said the innovative advance construction agreement will be the first of its kind in the country and could be a breakthrough in funding transportation projects on reservations nationwide.

"This agreement is going to go a long way towards helping Standing Rock meet its transportation needs," Pomeroy said. "For too long, tribes have been forced to fund projects in a piecemeal fashion and this changes that for Standing Rock. This victory is a credit to the tribe and its leadership who have fought for this agreement for so long."

Transportation projects on reservations are funded through the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) program. Under current BIA regulations, tribes are forced to wait until annual appropriations dollars are secured before moving forward with construction on transportation projects. This can cause multiple stops in funding and delays in construction.

Pomeroy, working with tribal leaders, urged the BIA to reach an agreement with the tribe to make it much easier to fund the construction of IRR transportation projects on Standing Rock. Under the new agreement, the tribe will be able to leverage federal funds, tribal dollars, and a portion of the tribe's IRR program funds to secure and repay a private commercial loan to finance road construction projects on Standing Rock.

The tribe is eligible to secure up to $26.5 million in private financing under this agreement which will be used to complete the Bullhead East/Community Streets Project, including the communities of Fort Yates, Cannon Ball, and Porcupine.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Charles W. Murphy praised the Congressman for his efforts: "The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is most appreciative to Congressman Pomeroy for the assistance he provided us to reach this historic agreement with the BIA on this innovative advance construction agreement. We have safer streets thanks to his efforts."

If the new financing project is successful, the agreement could be a potential breakthrough in the way tribal transportation projects are funded.

"This new agreement is the way the BIA should be doing business with tribes when it comes to funding transportation projects," Pomeroy added. "Reservation roads are in dire need of repair, and this arrangement is the best way to complete these projects quickly."

There are 56,000 miles of roads on the Indian Reservation Road system. The BIA has acknowledged that there is a backlog of construction on the IRR system in excess of $10 billion

Get the Bill:
S.1072 (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003)

Relevant Links:
TEA-21 Reauthorization - http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/reauthorization
Tribal Transportation, DOT - http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/natvamrc/index.htm

Related Stories:
Tribes lobby for more funds in transportation bill (2/19)
Senate approves $318B highway transportation bill (02/13)
Domenici cites spending hike for reservation roads (2/12)
Senate committee approves reservation roads bill (06/27)
Editorial: Congress needs to fund reservation roads (06/05)
Senate committee to take up reservation roads (6/3)
BIA delaying distribution of federal road money (05/30)
Alaska's Young wants $375B for transportation (05/16)
New federal highway funds bill introduced (05/15)
Advocates seek boost for Indian Country roads (03/28)
Rahall: The Indian agenda in the 108th Congress (01/08)
State disputes 'illegal jurisdiction' of tribe (10/10)
Bill to double reservation road funds (09/24)
Federal appeals court affirms tribal authority (8/15)
McCaleb tussles with tribal leaders over roads (11/8)

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