Tester Announces $115,000 Grant to Fund CSKT’s Transportation Safety Project

Funding will Help Replace Critical Infrastructure, Increase Access to Timber for CSKT

(Big Sandy, Mont.)-As part of his ongoing effort to increase safety and bolster infrastructure in Indian Country, Senator Jon Tester announced today that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) will receive $115,000 in funding from the Federal Highway Administration to replace the North Valley Creek Bridge-a main route between a rural timber-rich part of the reservation and Highway 93.

“Roads, bridges, and highways are essential lifelines for rural communities throughout Montana, especially on our state’s reservations,” Tester said. “This funding will create jobs and strengthen an important economic and emergency connector on the Flathead Reservation.”

The funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration’s Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration program, which provides funding for local projects that utilize and promote innovations in transportation. The innovative nature of the grant program will allow the tribes to replace the aging timber bridge with locally sourced materials in less than half the time, and at a lower cost, than it would take using more traditional means.

“Bridges are crucial in keeping our community connected and the recent approval of a Federal Highways Administration grant to replace the weathered North Valley Creek Bridge is very good news for our community,” said Vernon Finley, Chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. “These innovative metal bridge construction techniques are not only faster and less expensive, this effort will utilize our local labor force. The completed bridge will benefit those participating in tribal activities, logging, and continued recreational access to these forested areas.”

The award comes two weeks after Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s visit to the Flathead Reservation, where he met with many of the tribes’ road and planning managers to discuss the CSKT’s ongoing transportation needs. A recent inspection determined that the North Valley Creek Bridge was unable to safely support larger vehicles like logging trucks, school buses, ambulances and firefighting vehicles. This has created issues for first responders who rely on the bridge in emergencies, as well as loggers who use the bridge to transport lumber from the heavily timbered area.

The AID Demonstration program was established and funded by the Moving Ahead for Programs in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, which Tester voted for in 2012. Funding for the grant was renewed by the long-term Highway Bill that Tester helped pass in the Senate last year.