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Developing the Tribal Transportation Improvement Program


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Executive Summary

This summary provides Tribal decisionmakers and planners with a brief summary of the process for developing a Tribal Transportation Improvement Program (TTIP). It is based on the module Developing a Tribal Transportation Improvement Program, which is one of eight modules in the series Transportation Decisionmaking Information Tools for Tribal Governments written by the FHWA Office of Planning to educate Tribal planners and decisionmakers about the Tribal transportation planning process, and to provide them with program information.

What Is the TTIP?

The TTIP is a prioritized list of transportation projects that the Tribe expects to undertake over the next three to five years based on the funding that it expects will be available during that time. This is different from the Tribal Priority List, which contains all transportation projects the Tribe would like to complete if money were not a limiting factor.

How is the TTIP Developed?

Projects included in the TTIP reflect the Tribe's transportation vision, goals, and needs presented in the Tribal Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)-a more general planning document that considers the Tribe's needs and trends in transportation and related topics over the next 20 years.

There are four steps in developing the TTIP. They include the following:

Step 1. Stakeholder Identification and Public Involvement

Involving stakeholders-people and groups with an interest in Tribal transportation issues-is key to identifying and understanding the needs and priorities of the community. Stakeholders include Tribe members, government agencies, transit providers, human service agencies, local businesses, and others. At a minimum, Federal regulations require that the Tribe or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) office publicize a draft TTIP and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to review and submit comments. Tribes often conduct public meetings for this requirement.

Step 2. Programming the TTIP

With the prioritized transportation needs identified in the LRTP, the Tribe must choose projects for the TTIP that will best meet and serve those needs. Project identification and selection requires the Tribe to define the purpose and need of each potential project. It might also do preliminary assessments of candidate projects to understand a project's pros and cons. This assessment might include, for example, a rough estimate of project costs or a broad understanding of how the project might affect the human and natural environment. After this preliminary assessment, the Tribe can choose from this list of potential transportation projects based on how they meet the needs of the Tribe and its stakeholders considering the cost and other possible benefits and impacts of each project.

Step 3. TTIP Funding Sources

The BIA, FHWA, and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) each have programs that fund transportation projects on Tribal lands. State and local governments might also have money available. Tribal planners and decisionmakers can consult with BIA, FHWA, and other government agencies to help determine what total funding is available, how funds might be secured for the TTIP projects and the requirements associated with each funding source.

Step 4. Project Cost Estimation

After identifying specific projects to include in the TTIP, the Tribe should develop individual project cost estimates. They can generate the cost estimates in-house by using guidelines developed by FHWA or BIA. Alternatively, a transportation consultant can be hired for this task. Estimates should include the costs to design, construct, and maintain the transportation facility.

What is the TTIP's Relationship with Other Transportation Improvement Programs?

If a Tribe develops a TTIP, Federal law requires that it be incorporated into the Indian Reservation Roads Transportation Improvement Program (IRRTIP) developed by the BIA region and incorporated into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) developed by the state government. Tribal projects may also be included in transportation improvement programs developed by nearby metropolitan planning organizations. The following table shows the government agencies that must or can include TTIP projects in their own transportation improvement programs.

Relationships between Government Agency Transportation Improvement Programs
Government Agency Transportation Improvement Program Jurisdiction Legally Required Relationship between Transportation Improvement Programs
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Indian Reservation Roads Transportation Improvement Program (IRRTIP) BIA region Must contain projects from TTIP
Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) Designated metropolitan planning area
  • Must contain TTIP projects if Tribal lands fall within metropolitan planning area
  • Coordination optional if tribal lands are outside metropolitan planning area but are affected by metropolitan area transportation systems or the regional air quality conformity
State Department of Transportation State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) Statewide Must contain all projects from IRRTIP

Where Can I Get More Information?

Staff from the BIA, FHWA Federal Lands Highway, and FHWA Federal-Aid Division Offices can provide additional information to Tribes interested in learning more about developing a TTIP. The complete module Developing a Tribal Transportation Improvement Program can be found at

Transportation Decisionmaking Information Tools for Tribal Governments

The eight modules in the Transportation Decisionmaking Information Tools for Tribal Governments include:

  1. Introduction to Planning
  2. Developing a Long-Range Transportation Plan
  3. Developing the Transportation Improvement Program
  4. Funding Resources
  5. Public Involvement
  6. Data Collection and Use
  7. Safety
  8. 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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Updated: 1/31/2017
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