Jeffrey Whalen: Oglala Sioux Tribe fails to make progress on roads

Poor road conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo byAmerican Horse School via Government Accountability Office

Potholes a major hazard on Slim Buttes Road
By Jeffrey Whalen
Native Sun News Today Columnist

I’ve done my best to keep silent about the condition of our roads on Pine Ridge. After I had a close call, maybe it’s time to start speaking up.

From the year 2000 to the year 2009, I spent a lot of time building up the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s transportation department. We went from being broke with a negative budget at -230 thousand dollars, with three employees, from being housed in the basement of an old 1930’s house to securing a 20-acre compound as our main office. Under my leadership, we took over the airport duties, contracted the road maintenance department from the BIA, created the Mass Transit Busing program, developed the Motor Fuels road construction/maintenance program, created an in-house road construction program and much more. We created over 56 positions within the OST Department of Transportation.

There is too much positive history to write about here. But what happened since around 2010? It seems like nothing has grown at the department rather, a lot of good folks were terminated and program failure is following. The program seems to be in reverse gear rather than moving forward.

Take for example the road in Slim Buttes. There are way too may “dips” in the paved surface. If a person cruised at 55 mph, they would think they are on a roller coaster. The road surface instantly dips more than two (2) feet in some places. There is a spot near the old Gallego ranch where we routinely see car tire braking marks which skid off the road surface right where one of the worst dips is located.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Potholes a major hazard on Slim Buttes Road

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Copyright permission Native Sun News

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