Tribal Transportation Funding Resources
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This summary provides Tribal decisionmakers and planners with a brief overview of Federal funding resources available for Tribal transportation projects.
What is Financial Planning?
Financial planning is the process of detailing a project's purpose and need by estimating its costs and identifying potential funding sources available. Every project included in the Tribe's long-range transportation plan (LRTP) and Tribal Transportation Improvement Program (TTIP)-a prioritized list of transportation projects that the Tribe plans to undertake in the next three to six years-should be included in the financial plan. This critical step helps the Tribe meet one of the most important requirements of the LRTP and TTIP-ensuring that the total cost of the projects does not exceed the amount of money expected to be available for transportation projects. The financial plan can also help support the project when applying for or requesting future transportation funding.
What Federal Funding Sources are Available to Tribes?
There are 36 Federal-aid programs that can be used to fund transportation projects on Tribal lands. Each program has specific criteria for the types of projects that are eligible for Federal-aid funding. Additionally the different programs are administered by specific agencies, with specific and varying rules and regulations associated with how the funds are distributed. Before pursuing funding from any of these programs, Tribal planners should be sure that transportation projects meet the program's eligibility criteria and work with the appropriate responsible agency to see that the application procedures and rules are followed appropriately. Most Federal-aid funding programs require coordination and consultation among all agencies involved in project planning and funding. Depending on the Federal-aid program procedures, this may require coordination between the Federal, State, Tribal, metropolitan, and local governments. The Federal-Aid Highway funds are distributed to the individual States, who then are responsible to select projects for funding and implementation. Tribes should work with their State's department of transportation to ensure that they understand the eligibility criteria and project selection process and have access to the Federal-aid funding, as appropriate.
Federal-aid programs include:
- Federal Lands Highway (FLH) Program - This program is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Land Highway (FLH) Division Office. Funds available through FLH program may support projects on Indian lands and on public land owned by the Federal government such as national parks and forests. There are seven different programs each of which provide funding for new roadway infrastructure construction, improvement to existing roadways, and road maintenance. The Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) program is one of the funding groups under the FLH program, but is administered with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Project selection for IRR funds is based on the BIA's IRR Transportation Improvement Program (IRRTIP), which includes each Tribe's highest priority projects.
- Federal-Aid Highway Program - This funding source is administered by the FHWA and is the largest Federal-aid transportation funding source, encompassing 23 different programs. Table 1 shows the primary transportation project activities funded through the various FHWA programs.
Table 1. Examples of Federal-Aid Programs that Fund Transportation Activities on Tribal Lands
||Examples of Eligible Activities
|Surface Transportation Program
- Restoration and operational improvement for highways
|National Highway System
- Construction, reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration and rehabilitation of segments of the National Highway System
- Construction of eligible transit projects
- Bicycle systems and pedestrian walkways
- Transportation planning
- Participation in natural habitat and wetland mitigation efforts related to eligible projects including mitigation banks and State and regional conservation efforts
- Replacement of highway bridge within the corridor of any public road
- Rehabilitation to restore the structural integrity and to correct major functional defects of a bridge on any public road
- Bridge painting, earthquake protections, and removing damage caused by legally used chemicals such as roadway salt
- High Priority Projects listed in Federal legislation
- Projects of National and Regional Significance as listed in Federal legislation
- National Corridor Infrastructure Improvement listed in Federal legislation
|Congestion Mitigation Air Quality
- Pedestrian and bicycle off-road or on-road facilities
- Transportation management and monitoring systems
- Traffic management, monitoring and congestion relief strategies
- New transit systems and service expansions
- New services and program with air quality benefits
- Inspection and maintenance programs
- Experimental pilot projects and innovative financing
- Transportation facility planning, research, engineering, construction and reconstruction
- Tourism enhancement and recreational development
- Vehicular parking area improvements and additions
- Interpretive signage installation
- Scenic easement and scenic or historic site acquisition
- Pedestrian and bicycle on-and-off road system improvements
- Provision of transit facilities and services within public lands, national parks and Indian reservations
- Public Transportation - There are four programs, each administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that fund public transportation. These programs are aimed at providing new transit services and improving existing transit service. Each FTA funding program provides grants for specific populations or localities to offer service to the elderly and people with disabilities; to expand transit in rural and small urban areas; and to provide transit service for commuting to and from work in typically underserved areas.
Where Can I Find More Information?
Staff from the BIA, FLH, FHWA Federal-aid Division Offices, or State departments of transportation can provide more information to Tribes interested in learning more about these funding program and how to apply for the Federal-aid funding programs for their transportation projects. The complete module Tribal Transportation Funding Sources can be found at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/processes/tribal/planning_modules/training_fund_module/index.cfm.
Transportation Decisionmaking Information Tools for Tribal Governments
The eight modules in the Transportation Decisionmaking Information Tools for Tribal Governments include:
- Introduction to Planning
- Developing a Long-Range Transportation Plan
- Developing the Transportation Improvement Program
- Funding Resources
- Public Involvement
- Data Collection and Use
- Project Prioritization
Theresa Hutchins, FHWA Office of Planning
Phone: (360) 753-9402
Michelle Noch, FHWA Office of Planning
Phone: (202) 366-9206
Kyle Kitchel, FHWA Western Federal Lands High Division
Phone: (360) 619-7951
Brian Beltyon, FHWA Resource Center
Phone: (410) 962-0086
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