Tester pushes to increase highway safety throughout Indian Country

Senator and Fort Peck Executive Board Member push for tribal infrastructure investment

(U.S. Senate) – In an effort to improve safety on the roads and highways throughout Indian Country, Senator Jon Tester is pushing for investments and upgrades to tribal transportation infrastructure.

During a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on transportation, Tester voiced his support for the reauthorization of transportation initiatives to address the safety challenges that exist in Indian Country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury for Native American adults.

“We have the opportunity to not only address the safety challenges that exist in Indian Country, but also to make critical investments in tribal infrastructure,” said Tester, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. “These investments will create jobs, support business, and expand economic development opportunities. A safe and reliable transportation system is crucial to improving the quality of life on tribal lands.”

Richard Kirn, Tribal Executive Board Member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes, echoed Tester’s concerns during the hearing and urged the committee to make responsible investments for transportation infrastructure in rural Native American communities.

“Transportation infrastructure in Indian Country is unsafe, especially on large rural reservations like Fort Peck,” Kirn said during the hearing. “If I had to identify the biggest problem facing the Fort Peck Tribe regarding road safety, it would be the lack of resources.”

In 2012, Congress passed the Moving Ahead for Programs in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which reauthorized various national transportation projects and replaced the Indian Reservation Roads program with the Tribal Transportation Program (TTP). MAP-21 expires next month.