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Tribal Transportation Funding Resources

B. Federal Lands Highway Program (FLHP)

Of all transportation funding programs sponsored by the federal government, the Federal Lands Highway Program most directly responds to the needs of Tribal governments. The program enables a coordinated and diverse package of funding for projects within and serving federal and Indian lands. Moreover, Tribal governments may use FLHP funds as match for other federally-funded projects.

Program Features

This section begins with a Funding Authorizations Table followed by descriptions of each FLHP funding program.

Table 1: Federal Lands Highway Program - Funding Authorizations Table, FFYs 2005 - 2009 (in Millions)
Fund Source 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Total
B.1 Emergency Relief - Federal Roads Funding levels determined as needed
B.2 Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) 300 330 370 410 450 1,860.0
B.3a IRR Maintenance Component of the larger IRR program
B.3b BIA Maintenance 25.5 25.5 25.5 25.5 25.5 127.5
B.4 IRR Bridge 14 14 14 14 14 70.0
B.5 Park Roads & Parkways 180 195 210 225 240 1,050.0
B.6 Public Lands Highways 260 280 280 290 300 1,410.0
B.7 Refuge Roads 29 29 29 29 29 145.0

* BIA Maintenance and IRR Bridge authorizations are estimates.

B.1 Emergency Relief Program - Federal Roads (ERFO)

Program Purpose: The purpose of the Emergency Relief Program is to assist when roads serving federal and Indian lands are damaged by natural disaster or catastrophic failure from any external cause. The intent is to cover the high cost of returning these roads to their pre-disaster condition.

Emergency Relief Program (Federal Roads)

Federal Participation:

Period Available: Until Expended

Fund: Highway Trust Fund and General Fund, if required

Distribution Method: Allocation

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: No

Regulatory References:

Administering Agency: US DOT

Program Eligibility: Only federal roads are eligible. These include:

Other:

  1. ERFO funds may not duplicate assistance received from other federal programs, compensation received from insurance or any other source.
  2. The program is separate and apart from the Emergency Relief Program for federal-aid highways, such as the Interstate system.
  3. US DOT provides an ERFO Manual and Videotape with instructions on how States and Tribal governments may apply for ERFO assistance.

Program Contacts:

B.2 Indian Reservation Roads Program (IRR)

Overview: The Indian Reservation Roads program is designed to address a variety of transportation needs for federally-recognized Tribal governments. It is jointly administered by the US DOT FHWA Office of Federal Lands Highway (FLH) and the US Department of the Interior - Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Established in 1928, the program permitted cooperation between State highway agencies and the Interior Department to survey, construct, reconstruct and maintain Indian reservation roads. In 1982, under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), the Federal Lands Highway Program was created with the IRR as one program within it. STAA expanded the IRR system to include BIA roads, tribally-owned public roads and state and county roads. The IRR System covers:

Program Purpose: The purpose of the IRR program is to provide safe and adequate transportation services and public access to and within Indian reservations, Indian lands and communities for Indians and Alaska Natives (including visitors, recreational users, resource users and others), while contributing to Tribal economic development, self-determination and employment.

Program Eligibility: Eligible activities include:

Indian Reservation Roads Program

Federal Participation: 100 Percent

Period Available: FFY05 - 09

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: Relative Need Distribution Formula

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory References:

Administering Agencies: US DOT - FHWA and

US DOI - BIA

Program funds may be used as State and local match for federal-aid highway or transit projects that provide access to or within federal or Indian lands.

Additional SAFETEA-LU provisions include:

Other:

  1. Program funds are allocated by a relative need (share) formula developed under negotiated rule making with Tribal governments. Maximum utilization of the formula - and maximum share - requires the Tribal government maintain an updated IRR inventory. The inventory should list all roads that serve the reservation regardless of jurisdiction.
  2. Upon receiving the total fiscal year of IRR program funding from FHWA, BIA must publish a notice-of-availability of funds in the Federal Register and transfer the funds to eligible federally-recognized Tribal governments, within 30 days as stipulated.
  3. The IRR funds may only be expended on projects listed in an approved Tribal TIP.

Program Contacts:

B.3 IRR and BIA Roads Maintenance Programs

B.3.a - IRR Roads Maintenance Program

Program Purpose: The purpose of the IRR Roads Maintenance program is to provide funds for the maintenance and upkeep of paved, gravel, earth and unimproved roads, bridges and airstrips within the IRR system.

IRR and BIA Roads Maintenance Programs

Federal Participation: 100 Percent

Period Available: FFY 05-06

Funds:

Distribution Method: Tribal Priority Allocation

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory References:

Administering Agencies: US DOT - FHWA and US DOI - BIA

Program Eligibility: Eligible activities include:

New SAFETEA provisions allow the use of up to 25% of each eligible Tribe's IRR funds for the maintenance and upkeep of any eligible reservation road. The funds may be used for the maintenance of roads, bridges and for purchase of maintenance equipment, as approved by the BIA and FHWA. Access to IRR Maintenance funds is restricted to Tribes with qualifying road miles and facilities.

Other:

  1. Tribes must submit a needs request to add a road or facility to the IRR system for maintenance. An informal pre-application conference with the local BIA agency office is recommended.
  2. The Tribal government's application for maintenance funds must be filed with the local BIA agency office and must be accompanied by a resolution of its governing body.
  3. The dollar value of an IRR maintenance award depends on the amount prioritized by the Tribal government through its participation in the BIA budget formulation process.
  4. Awards are made on an annual basis and remain available until expended.
  5. About 30% of Tribes currently contract the road maintenance program under a self-determination contract or agreement.
  6. The operation and maintenance of ferry services across Lake Roosevelt serving the Colville Indian Reservation is included as an eligible program activity.

Program Contacts:

B.3.b - BIA Roads Maintenance Program

As mentioned, the BIA retains primary responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the designated BIA Road System, which is a subset of the larger IRR system. The BIA system represents roughly 27,800 roadway miles. The program is funded by the US Department of Interior road maintenance program, with annual authorizations of roughly $25.5M. Funding is restricted to the maintenance of BIA roads only. Tribal governments wishing to assume maintenance responsibility for all or some of the BIA roads on their lands must establish a formal maintenance agreement with the BIA. The program contact is shown above.

B.4 IRR Bridge Program (IRRBP)

Program Purpose: The IRR Bridge program is a component of the larger IRR program. It replaces previous set-asides and receives roughly $14M annually (as part of the IRR program authorizations). The purpose of the program is to support the planning, design, engineering, preconstruction, construction, inspection and replacement of deficient IRR bridges.

Indian Reservation Roads Bridge Program

Federal Participation:

Period Available: FFY 05-06

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: "First Come - First Serve"

within fund limits set in 23 CFR 681

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory References:

Administering Agencies: US DOT - FHWA and

US DOI-BIA

Program Eligibility: Eligible activities include:

To be eligible, the deficient bridge must have an opening of 20 feet or more and be:

Other: Bridge plan, specification and estimate (PS&E) activities are not funded through the program.

Program Contact: US DOT, FHWA, Federal Lands Highway, Office of Program Development, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-9494.

B.5 Park Roads and Parkways Program (PRP)

Program Purpose: The purpose of the Park Roads and Parkways program is to continually improve federal parkways and park roads.1

Program Eligibility: Eligible activities include:

Park Roads and Parkways Program

Federal Participation: 100 Percent

Period Available: FFY 05-09

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: Allocation

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory Reference: 23 U.S.C. 101, 202, 203, 204

Administering Agencies: US DOT - FHWA and

US DOI - NPS

Other:

  1. The FHWA and NPS jointly administer the program through Interagency Agreements.
  2. FHWA Federal Lands Highway is responsible for project design, construction and oversight activities. The NPS develops the prioritized program-of-projects and oversees planning.
  3. Fund allocations are based on the ranking of the prioritized projects developed by the respective agencies and approved by the Federal Highway Administration.Program Contact: US DOT, FHWA, Federal Lands Highway, Office of Program Development, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-9494. http://flh.fhwa.dot.gov

B.6 Public Lands Highway Program (PLH)

Program Purpose: The purpose of the Public Lands Highway program is to ensure continual upgrade and improvement to transportation facilities and services within federal public lands.

Public Lands Highway Program

Federal Participation: 100 Percent

Period Available: FFY 05-09

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: Allocation

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory References:

Administering Agency: US DOT

Program Eligibility: Eligible activities include:

SAFETEA-LU additions include:

Program Contact: US DOT, FHWA, Federal Lands Highway, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-9494.

B.7 Refuge roads Program (RRP)

Program Purpose: The purpose of the Refuge Roads program is to support the maintenance and improvement of roads within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).2 The program is jointly administered by the US DOT FHWA Federal Lands Highway and the US DOI Federal Wildlife Service (FWS). Refuge roads comprise roughly 3,260 miles nationwide.

Refuge Roads Program

Federal Participation: 100 Percent

Period Available: FFY 05-09

Fund: Highway Trust Fund

Distribution Method: Allocation

Type of Authority: Contract

Subject to Obligation Limitation: Yes

Regulatory References:

Administering Agency: US DOT - FHWA and

US DOI - FWS

Program Eligibility: Eligible activities include:

SAFETEA-LU provisions add eligibility for:

Other:

  1. The program authorization level is $29M annually.
  2. Through SAFETEA-LU, Refuge Roads are now recognized as needing treatment under uniform policies similar to those governing the federal-aid highways program.
  3. Program funds may be used as the non-federal match for any project funded under Title 23 or Chapter 53 of Title 49, as long as the project provides access to or within a wildlife refuge.
  4. There is no legislative formula for allocating program funds. Allocations are based on the relative needs of the various refuges within the NWRS. Agency allocation decisions consider:
    • Comprehensive conservation plan for each refuge
    • Need for access as identified through land use planning
    • Impact of land use planning on existing transportation facilities

Program Contact: US DOT, FHWA, Federal Lands Highway, Office of Program Development, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590. (202) 366-9494.

1 A parkway is defined as "a highway that has full or partial access control, is usually located within a park or a ribbon of park-like developments and prohibits commercial vehicles." Buses are not considered commercial vehicles in this case.

2 Refuge roads are defined as "public roads that provide access to and within a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System." Their title and maintenance responsibility is vested in the United States Government.

Updated: 12/19/2013
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