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Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)

Fact Sheets on Highway Provisions


  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Indian Reservation Roads $300M $330M $370M $410M $450M
Park Roads & Parkways $180M $195M $210M $225M $240M
Refuge Roads $29M $29M $29M $29M $29M
Public Lands $260M $280M $280M $290M $300M
Total $769M $834M $889M $954M $1,019M

Program Purpose

The Federal Lands Highways program provides for transportation planning, research, engineering, and construction of highways, roads, and parkways and transit facilities that proved access to or within public lands, national parks, and Indian reservations.

Statutory References

SAFETEA-LU Section(s): 1119

Other: 23 USC 202, 203, 204


Federal Lands Highways (FLH) program authorizations thru 2009 for Indian Reservation Roads (IRR), Park Roads and Parkways, Refuge Roads, and Public Lands Highways total $4.5 billion.

Direct transfer of apportioned funds to a Federal agency upon State request is now allowed.

FLHP funds can be used as the State/local match for Federal-aid highway or transit projects that provide access to or within Federal or Indian lands.

Indian Reservation Roads

The following general:

  • IRR funds that are transferred to the Secretary of the Interior must be made available to the tribe with 30 days of transfer.
  • IRR funds shall only be expended on projects identified in a transportation improvement program approved by the Secretary.
  • A new set-aside from IRR funds for BIA program management and oversight and administrative expenses is provided.
  • Tribal government may approve PS&E and commence construction with TEA-21 and SAFETEA-LU IRR funds if health and safety standards are met.

In addition, SAFETEA-LU makes a significant change in the administration of the IRR program. IRR funding for a highway, road, bridge, parkway, or transit facility program or project on an Indian reservation may now be provided directly, in accordance with the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, to a requesting Indian tribal government or consortium (2 or more tribes) that has satisfactorily demonstrated financial stability and financial management to the Secretary. Funding so provided is to include any amount that would have been withheld for BIA administrative costs.

National Tribal Transportation Facility Inventory. In order to identify the tribal transportation system and determine relative transportation needs among the tribes, the Secretary shall complete a comprehensive national inventory of transportation facilities that are eligible for assistance under the IRR program within 2 years of enactment. Report to Congress due within 90 days after inventory is completed.

IRR Bridges. Separate contract authority (replaces the previous set-aside) of $14 million/year for 2005-2009 is provided to carry out planning, design, engineering, preconstruction, construction, and inspection of projects to replace deficient IRR bridges.

Road maintenance. Up to 25% of a tribe's IRR funds may now be used for the purpose of road and bridge maintenance, although BIA will retain primary responsibility for IRR maintenance programs through DOI appropriations. A limitation on the program and oversight expenses for the BIA is provided, although BIA project administrative expenses have been added to the amount.

Tribal-State Road Maintenance Agreements. An Indian tribe may enter into a road maintenance agreement with a State to assume the responsibilities of the State for roads in and providing access to Indian reservations. Annual report to Congress required beginning in 2005 (prepared and submitted by the Secretary) identifying tribes and States that have entered into these agreements, miles assumed, and funds transferred.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Tribal Government Affairs. A new position in DOT is established to plan, coordinate, and implement DOT programs serving Indian tribes.

Park Roads and Parkways

No change

Refuge Roads

No change

Public Lands Highways

New eligible uses of Public Lands funds include up to $20 million per year for maintenance of Forest Highways, $1 million per year for signage identifying public hunting and fishing access, and $10 million by the Secretary of Agriculture to facilitate the passage of aquatic species beneath roads in the National Forest System.

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