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Peer Exchanges, Planning for a Better Tomorrow, Transportation Planning Capacity Building

Transportation Planning Capacity Building Program

— Peer Exchange Report —

Long-Range Transportation Plans: The Experiences of Tribal Planners

Location: Scottsdale, AZ
8th National Tribal Transportation Conference
Date:
 
November 2, 2005
 
Roundtable Host Agency(s):
 
Federal Highway Administration
 
Roundtable Participants: Blackfeet Tribe
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Eastern Regional Office
Federal Highway Administration
Fort Belknap Indian Community
Lummi Nation
Navajo Nation
Northwest and Alaska Tribal Transportation Assistance Program
Pascua Yaqui Tribe

I. Summary

The primary intent of this peer roundtable was to highlight how tribes of different sizes are successfully finding ways to plan for transportation in their communities in coordination with their neighboring local, regional, state, and Federal government planning partners.

The following report summarizes the results of a Peer Roundtable held through the Transportation Planning Capacity Building (TPCB) Program, which is jointly sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The FHWA hosted and facilitated the peer workshop at the 8th National Tribal Transportation Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, on November 2, 2005. The primary intent of this peer roundtable was to demonstrate and highlight how tribes of different sizes are successfully finding ways to plan for their communities in coordination with their neighboring local, regional, state, and Federal government planning partners. Attendees were able to learn from their peer tribal planners the approaches and techniques that lead to this success. This roundtable emphasized that one size does not fit all — approaches to long range planning are diverse given the various institutional arrangements, relationships, available resources, and required procedures of a tribe or region.

The roundtable was divided into two sessions. During the first session, the peers presented information about their tribes and their tribes' transportation planning processes to the roundtable attendees (Figure 1). During the second session, the peers sat down together at the front of the room as a panel and fielded questions from the attendees. The peers involved in the roundtable were representatives from five tribes and staff from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The five tribes represented were the Pascua Yaqui, the Navajo Nation, the Lummi Nation, the Blackfeet, and the Fort Belknap Community. Each of the peers' presentations and the panel discussion are summarized in this report. Over 80 people attended the roundtable.

Figure 1: Presenters and participants at the Peer Roundtable in Scottsdale, AZ.
Figure 1: Presenters and participants at the Peer Roundtable in Scottsdale, AZ.

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II. Background

This peer roundtable focused on the successful approaches, strategies, and techniques for developing a long-range transportation plan by tribal governments. The tribes selected to present at this roundtable are diverse in terms of their size and their geographic location. The peers were asked to address the following questions in their presentations:

  • Describe your community - location, population, economic development activities, and social services.
  • How does your tribe develop a long-range transportation plan? Who are the key participants?
  • How do you get tribal membership/leadership actively involved (public involvement)?
  • How do you coordinate development of the long-range transportation plan with other offices of your tribe?
  • In developing the long-range transportation plan, how does your tribe work with other tribes, neighboring local and State governments, and federal agencies?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced and how have they been addressed?
  • What are some of your greatest successes?
  • What are the "key" lessons you have learned?

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III. Presentations

The following section provides an overview of the presentations by each of the five tribal planners and the Bureau of Indian Affairs representative.

A. Long-Range Transportation Plan — A Planning Guide to Coordination
in the Transportation Planning Process

Eric Wilcox — Bureau of Indian Affairs, Eastern Regional Office

Eric Wilcox gave the first presentation and discussed long range transportation plans (LRTP), their purpose, and the laws, regulations, and rules that guide them. The LRTP is defined as the development of strategies for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation facilities for moving people and goods in a village, town, county, State, or Indian Reservation. According to Wilcox, it is a vision of the future that guides decision-makers today.

A flowchart of the transportation decision-making process with Develop Long Range Transportation Plan at the top, with an arrow to Develop Transportation Improvement Plan, with an arrow to Evaluation of Project Scope and Initial Project Development, with an arrow to Develoopment of Project Plans, with an arrow to Project Implementation, with an arrow to Operations: Management and Facilities Maintenance.  The first three steps are flagged as Elements of the Planning Process.  The last three steps have an arrow back up to Develop Long Range Transportation Plan and Development Transportation Improvement Plan.
Figure 2: The basic steps of the transportation decision-making process.


Figure 2 shows the basic steps of transportation decision-making. There are five key characteristics of the transportation planning process, which provide the guidelines for the development of the LRTP:

  1. The planning process is linked to land use and cultural preservation and it covers the area's cultural, social, economic, and environmental quality of life goals.
  2. The planning process examines current transportation operations and identifies future transportation needs (both physical and financial).
  3. The transportation planning process facilitates transportation investment decision-making with multiple demands on limited resources.
  4. The planning process involves a variety of participants with an interest in transportation decision-making. These participants include Tribal Governments, Federal agencies, State, local governments, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs).
  5. The planning process results in workable strategies to achieve optimum transportation investment over both the short-range (3-5 years) and the long-range (20 years or more).

Table 1 lists the major components of the LRTP. Combined with the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR), Tribal Governments can use the LRTP in the development of their Tribal Priority List or Tribal Transportation Improvement Plan (TTIP). The LRTP can also be used to forecast future tribal transportation facilities and for updating the IRR inventory.

Table 1: Major components of the LRTP
  • An IRR Road and Bridge Inventory
  • Measurement of Traffic (ADT)
  • Analysis of Transportation Need (Current and Future)
    • Existing Development
    • Population Centers
    • Cultural and Historical Sites
    • Wetlands and Flood Plains
    • Future Growth
    • Recreational
  • Trip Generation Studies
  • Calculation of Capacity
  • Investment Analysis
  • Development and Use of Management Systems
    • Pavement
    • Safety
    • Maintenance
    • Traffic Congestion
  • Financial Planning
    • Cost to Improve
    • Sources of Revenue
    • Development and Update of Control Schedules
  • Development and Updating of LRTP
  • Development and Updating of TIP
  • Coordination with States, MPOs, RPO's
  • Public Involvement

The purpose of developing a long range transportation plan is to provide a management tool that guides tribal and state decision-makers in developing strategies to meet identified transportation needs. These strategies should address future land uses, economic development, traffic demands, public safety, health and social needs, and cultural and traditional practices for both the short-range (3-5 years) and the long-range (20 years or more). Table 2 lists the laws, rules, and regulations that guide the development of the LRTP. Tribes should review these regulations when developing their LRTP to ensure that their LRTP covers each of the requirements of the law.

Table 2: Laws, Rules, and Regulations that Guide the Development of the LRTP
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and United States Code (USC)
Regulation Topic
23 CFR 450 Statewide and Metropolitan Planning Rule
23 USC 134 Metropolitan Planning
23 USC 135 Statewide Planning
23 USC 202 Allocations
23 USC 204 Federal Lands Highway Program
25 CFR 170 Indian Reservation Roads Program (IRR)
25 CFR 900 Contracts under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act
BIA/FHWA Memorandum of Agreement
IRR Program Stewardship Plan

Note: The above are just a sample and do not represent all laws, rules, and regulations.

Federal legislation emphasizes the need for different governmental entities to coordinate their transportation planning (see 23 CFR 450, 23 USC 134, 23 USC 135, and 25 CFR 170). In sum, there needs to be intergovernmental consultation, collaboration and coordination in order to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of the traveling public. Often, the traveling public are not aware of the boundary lines of federal, state, and tribal transportation systems and consultation, collaboration, and coordination will help to create a seamless transportation system between those entities.

Several steps can be taken to enhance coordination between the planning partners and within the planning process:

  • Tribal governments can take an active role in transportation planning, including designating an official to be responsible for transportation planning coordination.
  • Tribal governments may consider making transportation planning a permanent part of tribal administration and create greater coordination between tribal transportation planners and other tribal planners.
  • Tribal and State Governments, MPOs/RPOs, and local governments can keep open channels of communication, thereby facilitating improved coordination.
  • State transportation agencies, Tribal Transportation Assistance Programs (TTAPs), Tribal Transportation Assistance Program (LTAPs), BIA, and FHWA can conduct training courses for tribal planners and officials on transportation issues and intergovernmental affairs.
  • BIA and FHWA can act as facilitators between tribal and state governments to address problems and concerns with transportation issues.
  • Planning partners can continue to host, sponsor, support, and participate in meetings such as this one.

Five examples of successful coordination in transportation planning include:

  1. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and Neshoba County
  2. The Narragansett Tribe and the FHWA
  3. Arizona Tribes and the Arizona DOT
  4. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the FHWA, and the North Carolina DOT
  5. The Seneca Nation, working with TTAP, had a meeting among Tribal Governments, the New York State DOT, and the FHWA

Though more exist, below are five examples of successful coordination in transportation planning:

  1. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and Neshoba County have recently renewed an agreement to resurface roads that service the local community and tribal members.
  2. The Narragansett Tribe and the FHWA recently entered into a cooperative agreement to improve the overall quality of transportation decision making for federally funded transportation projects in Rhode Island through early consultation and coordination.
  3. Arizona Tribes and the Arizona DOT have been working over the past several years to address transportation issues that affect tribal lands within the state.
  4. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the FHWA, and the North Carolina DOT are working collaboratively on a long-term road and bridge reconstruction project for Route 19. While the State provides project plan review and oversight, the project is funded through FHWA, and the Tribe is the prime contractor.
  5. The Seneca Nation, working with TTAP, arranged and hosted a meeting among Tribal Governments, the New York State DOT, and the FHWA to discuss a variety of transportation issues of particular concern of the Seneca Nation.

Several barriers exist that make coordination difficult and complicate Tribal long range planning:

  • Tribal and State Governments have significant "Sovereign Status" issues that need to be resolved before real broad-scale cooperative planning becomes the norm.
  • Barriers exist when interpretation of federal laws and regulations governing the IRR program and other programs conflict.
  • Differences exist in planning capacity, which includes experience and training, between tribal and state transportation organizations and agencies.
  • Differences exist in the understanding and knowledge of transportation programs and practices.
  • A lack of comprehensive tribal transportation plans results in a lack of common goals among participants.
  • Tribal planners are more often responsible for numerous projects, many of which are given higher priority than transportation issues.

B. Long-Range Transportation Planning

Marcelino Flores — Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Arizona

Marcelino Flores presented information about the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and its transportation planning efforts. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe was federally recognized in 1978. While the tribe had 202 acres of Trust Land initially, they now have over 1,200 acres and eight recognized communities within Arizona. The tribe has nearly 15,000 enrolled members, 6,800 of whom live within Pima County, and approximately 3,500 live on the reservation, Pascua Pueblo. Between the Tribal Government and two casinos, the tribe employs over 2,000 people in the Tucson area. The tribe's road system includes 19.3 miles of roads recorded on the BIA Indian Reservation Roads Inventory system, and 4.3 miles of new facilities are proposed. The tribe has also established a computerized Pavement Management System with BIA's assistance. Local municipalities have continually provided technical assistance and advice.

The Pascua Yaqui's vision is to work together to create a self-sufficient nation. Its transportation planning goals are to:

  • Increase efficiency, mobility, and access;
  • Develop safe multi-modal choices; and to
  • Coordinate land use with transportation by actively working with internal Tribal Departments and engaging local municipalities.

Regarding the second goal, the tribe especially wants to provide good and safe pedestrian facilities since there is a significant amount of walking in the tribal communities.

There are several regional transportation issues that are currently affecting the reservation. The construction of Star Valley, which is adjacent to tribal lands, has not yet been permitted. This development will be 7,000 homes at build out, but the roads cannot be planned until the development is permitted. At least four other site-specific plans and/or rezoning requests are also moving through the planning process. Another issue is the growth and expansion of transit services in the region, especially since new road projects are disliked in the Tucson area. Other issues include the growth of the Southwestern area, Valencia Road capacity improvements, and a proposed loop system.

The Pascua Yaqui tribe first developed its 20-year long-range plan using BIA funds. Concurrently, the tribe developed the Master Land-Use Plan and Master Drainage Plan. The Pascua Yaqui Indian Community 20-Year Transportation Plan Update was adopted in November 2003.

The tribe's current projects and initiatives include:

  • Performing Class 3 Traffic Classification Counts to input into their IRR Inventory and Pavement Management System as appropriate;
  • Constructing approximately 1.5 miles of new roads;
  • Continuing the planning, design, and implementation of projects identified by their 20-year Transportation Plan and reviewing the projects' and plan's implications for land use; and
  • Actively contributing to regional planning efforts, primarily by continuing to work with the region's Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Pima Association of Governments.

The Pascua Yaqui's significant role in and involvement with the MPO is unique among tribes. Not only has the tribe been a voting member since 2002, but several Pascua Yaqui government staff participate within the MPO's subcommittees to compliment their respective roles within the Tribe. Also, regular meetings are held within the Tribe to share information and align strategies.

The Pascua Yaqui's significant role in the MPO is unique among tribes. Not only has the tribe been a voting member since 2002, but several Pascua Yaqui government staff participate within the MPO's subcommittees. Also, regular meetings are held within the Tribe to share information and align strategies.

The Pascua Yaqui tribe is also involved in the region's Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). Elected officials, including a representative from the tribe, serve on the Regional Transportation Board, which governs the RTA. A 22-member Technical Management Committee and a 34-member Citizen Advisory Committee is developing the RTA's 20-year transportation plan for adoption. The tribe has members in each of these committees. During Pima County's election in May of 2006, voters will vote on the plan. If approved, the voters must then accept a half-cent excise tax.

C. Navajo Nation Long-Range Transportation Plan

Salisa Norstog — Navajo Nation

Salisa Norstog presented information about the Navajo Nation and the Navajo Nation's long-range transportation plan. The Navajo Nation's 27,427 square miles spans three states and 11 counties. The Navajo Nation is divided into five separate agencies and 110 chapters that oversee more local issues. In 2000, there were 256,712 Navajo tribe members nationwide, of whom 180,462 live on the reservation. There are almost 10,000 miles of roads within the reservation, 62 percent of which are BIA routes, 18 percent are county roads, and 17 percent are State highways. Over half of the roads are classified as collectors. Between 1999 and 2001, there were 4,208 accidents on their roads, 41 percent of which resulted in an injury and 4.4 percent of which were fatal. The reservation faces 25 percent unemployment and households have half of the U.S. national average income.

In this flowchart, there are three boxes on the left under Planning Criteria.  On the right are eleven boxes under Transportation Needs.  The three boxes on the right capture Transportation Goals, Planning Guidelines, and Transportation Issues.  The eleven boxes on the right are 1. Highway Geometric Design Deficiencies; 2. Class 2 Roads Needs; 3. Pavement Deficiencies; 4. Safety Needs; 5. Chapter House Access Needs; 6. Growth Centers Street Needs; 7. Community and Economic Development Transportation Needs; 8. Scenic Byways, Tourism, and Recreation; 9. Intermodal Transportation Needs; 10. Other Transportation Needs; 11. Cultural and Environmental Considerations.  The boxes on the left and right are connected to each other.
Figure 3: The Navajo Nation's needs assessment process.

The 2003 Navajo Nation Long-Range Comprehensive Transportation Plan addresses the 20-year transportation improvement needs of all Navajo Nation IRR system, provides long-range policies and implementation guidelines, and provides justifications for funding. As shown in Figure 3, the Navajo Nation created planning criteria based on their transportation goals, planning guidelines, and transportation issues and identified their transportation needs accordingly.

To target high-accident areas, the Navajo Department of Transportation used GIS to identify sections of their roads and intersections where different types of accidents occurred. They also used GIS to identify school bus routes and access needs, chapter meeting houses access needs, and the location

In developing their long-range plan, the Navajo Department of Transportation's needs assessment was both technical and extensive. The needs assessment was a substantial task given the reservation's size and multiple jurisdictions. The Navajo Department of Transportation compared the reservation's roads to Bureau of Indian Affairs Manual standards and found that thousands of miles of their roads are below standard and are in need of surface improvements and/or widening. To target high-accident areas, the Navajo Department of Transportation used a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify sections of their roads and intersections where different types of accidents occurred. They also used GIS to identify school bus routes and access needs (71 percent of the students take a bus to one of the reservation's 100 schools), chapter meeting houses access needs (26 chapter houses have no paved road access), and the location of economic development projects (60 are planned over the next six years). The plan contains regional center street plans and projects the population growth for these regional centers to 2020. The reservation's needs and findings are summarized at the end of each chapter of the plan.

The Navajo Department of Transportation's biggest challenge was to involve the public because so many people had to be contacted. As the plan was being finalized, notices were published in local newspapers, but no comments were received. At the public hearing that was held when the final draft was complete, there were few comments and many questions. The result of the lack of involvement means that the plan may not be implemented as conceived or projects may not be accepted when undertaken. The Navajo Department of Transportation recognizes that they need more public hearings early during the data gathering phase and again when findings and recommendations are complete. They also feel like the plan should be condensed in the future to be less daunting. Another significant challenge to the Navajo Nation is being able to meet the new 25 CFR Part 170 regulation requiring the addressing of the road inventory in future LRTPs, especially being able to do this annually. The Navajo Department of Transportation offers its Long Range Transportation Plan online for public access.

D. General Themes of Lummi Safety Study

Kirk Vinish — Lummi Nation, Washington

Kirk Vinish presented information about the Lummi Nation and the safety component of the Lummi Nation's transportation plan. The Lummi Nation is located on a peninsula in northern Washington along Puget Sound (Figure 4). Historically, the Lummi traveled in either canoe or by walking. Today, walking is still the norm, but traffic is an obstacle.

This map shows the location of the Lummi Nation, which is on a peninsula in Puget Sound in the northwest corner of the state of Washington.
Figure 4: Location of Lummi Nation

A major arterial, Haxton Way, connects motorists coming from Bellingham and Interstate 5 to the Lummi Island Ferry dock and runs down the length of the peninsula. Lummi Island is part of Whatcom County and the motorists who use the ferry are generally people who commute to work or have other destinations outside of the Lummi Reservation on the mainland. Accordingly, motorists usually move quickly along Haxton Way through the Lummi Reservation. The tribe would like to see pedestrian improvements, particularly ones that would result in a separation between the roads, especially Haxton Way, and the sidewalks so that people can walk safely around the reservation.

One of the goals of the transportation plan is to peacefully address people's frustration with Haxton Way, both from the commuters' perspective that traffic moves along the road too slowly and from the tribe's perspective that the road is dangerous and traffic moves too quickly. To address this frustration, the plan will cover three of six safety management system components: data collection, issue identification, and correction of safety problems. The other three components — public education, training needs, and reporting — are being addressed elsewhere and not in the plan.

For the data collection component, the planners collected accident data from state, county, BIA, and tribal resources; the county and the tribe performed traffic counts; and the planners solicited public input from stakeholders. This step was vital in determining what people wanted and to forge a coalition to work towards an agreement. The planners started by talking to tribal elders and then talked to school bus drivers, the police, and youth groups. Through their conversations with the youth groups, the planners discovered that the youth were participating in dangerous behavior, namely walking down the middle of roads at night wearing dark clothes. The planners then created a matrix of the stakeholders' input to identify common issues of concern. The planners also collected accident data from the Washington State Police with whom the tribe had an agreement to share data.

To understand the issues facing the tribe, planners:

  • spoke with tribal elders, school bus drivers, the police, and youth groups;
  • created a matrix of the stakeholders' input to identify common issues of concern; and
  • used accident data from the Washington State Police to map accident locations using GIS.

As a result of this process, planners found that:
  • several accidents had occurred along a road in the northern part of the reservation and
  • most fatal accidents involved a pedestrian.

The key features that led to the success of this planning effort were making personal contact with each stakeholder group and coordinating with adjacent jurisdictions.

During the issue identification component, the planners mapped accident locations using GIS. As a result of this process, planners found that in addition to Haxton Way, several accidents had occurred along a road that connected a refinery to the Interstate in the northern part of the reservation. Planners also found that most fatal accidents involved a pedestrian.

For their work performed as part of the correction of safety problems component, the planners received an award from the State of Washington: Effective Local Partnerships for forging a successful partnership between the county and the tribe. To help establish this partnership, the planners invited county staff to visit the reservation and see the transition and difference between the quality of roads as they went from the county into the reservation and vice versa. Working with this partnership, the planners identified and scheduled projects and programs to improve the situation. Projects included specific physical improvements and programs included educational components, which were particularly focused for the tribal youth. The key features that led to the success of this component were making personal contact with each stakeholder group and coordinating with adjacent jurisdictions. Personal contact ensured that information would not get lost in the translation from one source to the next and the coordination with adjacent jurisdictions resulted in the tribe being able to secure matching funds for its small IRR budget.

E. Long-Range Transportation Planning

Don White — Blackfeet Tribe, Montana

Don White presented information about the Blackfeet Tribe and its transportation planning efforts. The Blackfeet Tribe's 1.5 million acres is bordered by Glacier National Park on the west and Canada on the north. Half of the land is mountainous and hilly and the other half is grassland plains. Just over 10,000 people live on the reservation, 5,500 of whom live in the town of Browning. The reservation contains 800 miles of roads that are under five different jurisdictions: state, county, tribal, National Park Service, and the National Forest Service. Temperatures on the reservation vary between 90°F and -45°F.

The Browning Visioning Project, sponsored by Montana State University's Architecture Extension Program, was one of the Blackfeet Nation's first planning projects. This project, run by students from Montana State University's (MSU) School of Architecture Community Design Center in cooperation with MSU-Extension Service, was applied for and approved in 1997. This project followed planning work regarding tourism, was solicited by invitation from the Tribal Council, and was funded by grants from the Federal Rural Development Fund, the Montana Community Foundation, and the Montana Campus Compact. In addition to a significant amount of off-site work, this project involved architectural students spending two weeks on the reservation to understand the needs and ideas of the residents. These ideas were recorded, drawn and interpreted by the architecture students, and put into a book format. Upon completion, these books were given to businesses and individuals for consideration when planning projects. This project has been considered the basis for all subsequent planning on the reservation.

Figure 5: Horsemen sculptures at the entrance to the reservation.
This photograph shows a pair of the sculptures that are located at each of the Blackfeet Nation's entrances.  These sculptures of two horsemen are made from old car parts.

One of the major findings of this project was that an opportunity existed for the tribe to take advantage of the 1.5 - 2 million visitors to Glacier National Park who drive through the reservation annually. Participants envisioned some way to identify the reservation and capture the attention of some of the tourists. The tribe then commissioned a tribal artist to create sculptures of horsemen, made of pre-1950s car parts, at each of the entrances to the reservation (see Figure 5). The tribe has also created an information center behind one of its museums, crafted sculptures on downtown utility poles, and improved one of its campgrounds.

The state and the tribe had a disagreement in the early 1990s in regards to Indian Preference in state highway construction contracts on the reservation. This conflict resulted in the State of Montana delaying its construction contracts. This delay lasted for three years. After a change in state leadership and in the Tribal Council in 1995, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was negotiated and signed between the tribe and the state to initiate a new era of cooperation and understanding between the two parties.

The state and the tribe had a disagreement in the early 1990s in regards to Indian Preference in state highway construction contracts on the reservation. This conflict resulted in the State of Montana delaying its construction contracts. This delay lasted for three years. After a change in state leadership and in the Tribal Council in 1995, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was negotiated and signed between the tribe and the state to initiate a new era of cooperation and understanding between the two parties.

A part of this agreement was that the Montana Department of Transportation would pay an improvement of service (IOS) fee to the Tribe, which would be 2 percent of the construction contract. This fee is used for transportation related projects. To date, the tribe has used this money for the statues at the entrance of the reservation, enhancing four intersections in downtown Browning, putting up historical and interpretive signs throughout the reservation, and improving their campgrounds. These projects help to promote economic development on the reservation. A basketball court was also built to keep kids off the streets. In the next few years, the State of Montana will spend $65 million for highway construction work on the Blackfeet Reservation. The IOS fees collected by the tribe from these projects will be used for transportation enhancements projects that promote further economic development on the Reservation. The MOA also called for more participation from the tribe in all state planning activities for contract work on the reservation. The agreement is renegotiated every 5 years.

The tribe is currently trying to improve crash data and accident reporting. Presently, complications exist when trying to retrieve information from the Bureau of Affairs law enforcement on accident data. The complication is a privacy issue since it takes approximately eight months to go through the privacy process to obtain the information requested.

The tribe estimates that $25 million is needed to bring its roads system up to standard and meet its needs. To maintain and expand its roads, the tribe receives $2 million a year from the IRR program. While the tribe estimates that the state spends approximately $5,000/mile for maintenance of its roads, the tribe can only afford $500/mile.

The Blackfeet Tribe operates its own transit system and wants to partner with Glacier National Park to provide a shuttle service through the park during a major construction project that will last approximately ten years.

The Blackfeet Tribe operates its own transit system and is looking to partner with Glacier National Park to provide a shuttle service through the park during a major construction contract that will last approximately ten years. This shuttle service is a result of mitigation with Glacier National Park, which will be spending $170 million on improving Going to the Sun Road. Glacier National Park will purchase twelve shuttle buses and will build transit stations at the two entrances to the park. The tribe is planning to submit a bid for the operation of this system in hopes of linking the two systems and providing more jobs and exposure for the reservation.

In 2000, the tribe received IRR capacity building funds to complete an LRTP. The tribe hired a consultant who spent a year collecting data, holding public meetings, and determining the needs of the tribe. At first, the public meetings were sparsely attended. As an incentive, food was offered at the meetings, and the meeting attendance increased. The LRTP was completed in 2002 and is updated annually.

The BIA recently notified tribes that they need to update their road inventory and develop a Long Range Transportation Improvement Plan. The Blackfeet Tribe contracted ASGC, Inc., from Albuquerque, NM, to perform this task. To date they have conducted Average Daily Traffic Counts, added roads to the system, and developed maps of the Reservation Road System. This project started with a kickoff meeting in September 2005.

The tribe did an effective job of attracting a large number of people to a morning meeting on updating their Long Range Transportation Improvement Plan, primarily by personally inviting people to the meeting. After breakfast, meeting participants watched a video called "Pathways to Tomorrow."

The tribe did a highly effective job of attracting a large number of people to this meeting, primarily by personally inviting people to the meeting. After breakfast, meeting participants watched a video called "Pathways to Tomorrow." 1 This video, developed by the Kalispel Tribe, helped the participants relate to the process by showing them how transportation improvements are important to the tribe's quality of life. After the video, the consultant distributed maps to the participants and asked them to identify what they wanted to see with respect to the tribe's transportation system. Participants identified issues and then signed up for time slots to meet individually with the consultants.

The consultants' goal is to incorporate the numerous, well-crafted plans of the various tribal stakeholder groups into one cohesive plan in addition to performing the road inventory. As of the end of 2005, the consultants have increased the miles of BIA roads from 268 to 290 and the miles of IRR roads from 400 to 800 miles.

F. Long-Range Transportation Planning: Experiences

C. "John" Healy Sr. — Fort Belknap Indian Community, Montana
Wesley Cochran — Fort Belknap Indian Community, Montana
Malcolm Tonneson — Interstate Engineering

John Healy presented information about the Fort Belknap Indian Community and the community's transportation planning efforts. The Fort Belknap Indian Reservation is located in north central Montana and is homeland to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine peoples. The reservation is about 1100 square miles in size. The Fort Belknap Reservation is the fourth largest of the seven reservations in Montana. About 80 percent of the Reservation is situated in Blaine County and the remaining 20 percent is located in Phillips County. There are about 3,000 people who live on the Reservation. The mission of the Fort Belknap Tribal Government is to protect the health, security, and general welfare of the residents of Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and surrounding area to perpetuate this Indian Nation as an abiding place for the members of this community.

The tribes have been involved in strategic planning and goal setting since the 1940s. In the last twenty years, the tribes undertook seven strategic planning sessions. The tribes distributed a sensing survey in 2002 that asked the following questions:

  • What goals do you have for the Fort Belknap Tribes for the next 3-5yrs?
  • What opportunities do you expect for Fort Belknap over the next 3-5yrs?
  • What changes or challenges will Fort Belknap face over the next 3-5yrs?
  • How well does communication flow within the tribe?
  • What type of infrastructure is most important and most needed?

Based on the responses to this survey, an executive committee created strategic planning goals and objectives that would guide the tribes' development over the next few years. The tribes then created an Action Plan that was carried out by standing and working committees to meet the objectives set by the Executive Committee. The action plan included action items, assignments, responsibilities, dates, and follow up.

Federal legislation sets aside two percent of IRR construction funds for tribal transportation planning. According to federal legislation, a region must create a transportation improvement program (TIP) that is included in the State TIP. The TIP needs to be consistent with the long-range transportation plan and needs to include a list of projects, Federally funded surface transportation expenditures, regionally significant projects, and other projects. The TIP, which covers projects within the one to three year time period, is tied to the LRTP, which covers projects within a 20-year time period. With respect to areas of the state under jurisdiction of Indian Tribal Government, the LRTP must be developed in cooperation with the State Department of Transportation and the Secretary of Interior.

To formulate their LRTP, the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes decided to hire a consultant through a request for proposals process. As a first step in this process, the tribes identified the key stakeholders. These stakeholders included:

  • Tribal government and staff including school and health officials;
  • Tribal members (the public);
  • County and state officials including neighboring communities and the State DOT;
  • Federal agencies including the FHWA and BIA; and
  • potential and existing industries and businesses.

Using the input from these stakeholders, the tribes created a request for proposals, advertised it, and crafted weighted criteria to evaluate the respondents through a rating process. The tribes then hired the top-scoring contractor. The contractor's first task was data collection, which included average daily traffic, an inventory of the tribe's roads, and the data needed to populate a Surface Condition Index and a Road Condition Index. Under a previous contract, the contractor created a Geographic Information System (GIS/GPS) base map (for more information on the development of this GIS/GPS base map, see Appendix A). This information provided the quantitative foundation necessary for the tribes' needs analysis.

Though each tribe and process is unique, eight basic steps can be used to develop a long-range transportation plan, and the tribes' contractor will use these steps to guide them through the process:

  1. Establish policy goals and objectives;
  2. Analyze transportation system conditions;
  3. Perform needs analysis;
  4. Set priorities;
  5. Establish funding plan;
  6. Develop the plan;
  7. Develop the program; and
  8. Implement and monitor the plan.

One of the biggest obstacles the tribes have faced is developing their transit system and submitting applications for Section 5310 FTA grants and obtaining Section 5310 FTA grant funds, which are to be used for elderly and disabled transportation programs. The submittal process was the same as other grantees, but getting the authorization to submit was a challenge.

A challenge tribes face is getting authorization to apply for Section 5310 FTA grants. Each year FTA provides Section 5310 grants funds to non-profits and certain public agencies to purchase capital equipment for services to the elderly and disabled.
Because they are not considered a public agency, the Fort Belknap Indian Community pursued attaining the same status as a non-profit organization. After conducting research, a tribal transportation planner found that under Section 7871 of the IRS Code, tribes are to be treated the same as a 501 c (3) Non-Profit Organization.
Today, the tribes have a fleet of buses for their senior citizen centers and have expanded their transportation planning department.

To be eligible for these grants, the tribes have to be considered either a local government or a 502 c (3) Non-Profit Organization. Some states and counties do not recognize tribes officially as local governments. The Fort Belknap Indian Community then pursued another avenue — attaining the same status as a non-profit organization. After conducting some research, a tribal transportation planner found that under Section 7871 of the IRS Code, Tribes are to be treated the same as a 501 c (3) Non-Profit Organization. Through a series of letters between the tribes' attorney and the state, the tribes were given the opportunity to apply for these grants. Today, the tribes have a fleet of buses for their senior citizen centers and have expanded their transportation planning department.

This figures shows how through public involvement, a number of factors (data, politics, opinions, information) are considered in the formation of the long range transportation plan and the transportation improvement program.
Figure 6: Public involvement in the tribe's transportation planning process
One innovative public involvement technique was to have the Transportation Director use airtime on the local tribal public radio station to discuss the tribe's long range planning process.

Having public meetings early and often, involving stakeholders, and coordinating between agencies were key to the success of the process. Figure 6 shows how the public can be involved at important steps in the transportation planning process. In addition to the public meetings, where people were sometimes too shy to speak up, the tribes were successful in getting the public involved by distributing a survey, creating a web site, advertising and getting coverage in newspapers, creating and distributing a local newsletter. One innovative technique was to use airtime on the local Tribal public radio station. During one of the Transportation Director's on-air program updates, the Director had his consultant call in from Billings, MT, to provide a short statement to the public as to their role in the development of the LRTP, data collected to date, and how the tribe will be able to use the plan.

Other key lessons learned include the importance of doing research, networking, and planning and preparing for the LRTP planning process.

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IV. Tribal Transportation Planning Panel

Sometimes you have to be a "one-man show" in pursuing long range transportation planning and you have to be persistent with your tribal councils. If possible, bring tribal members to transportation training sessions so that they can see and understand the larger context and message.

After the last presentation, the presenters responded to questions from the session attendees. One attendee stated that while he applauded the accomplishments of the panel members with respect to garnering the support of their tribal councils to pursue transportation planning, he has been unable to generate such support. Panel members replied by saying that sometimes you have to be a "one-man show" and you have to be persistent with your tribal councils. If possible, bring tribal members to transportation training sessions — like this conference — so that they can see and understand the larger context and message.

This attendee also stated that conducting surveys can be difficult: unless the questions on the survey are open-ended, they can be biased by only raising certain issues that may not represent the issues of concern to the public. The panel responded that questions need to be crafted with care. Surveys are helpful tools because they can serve as a basis for determining what projects the public would like to see included in the Transportation Improvement Program.

Questions on surveys need to be crafted with care so that they are unbiased and solicit an honest opinion.

Another attendee stated that he feels like the tribes in Alaska are "coming out of the dark ages" with respect to knowing about and understanding that there are funds and support available for developing their transportation systems. He said that there are 229 federally recognized tribes in Alaska and only one regional office that has to process all of their IRR applications, which then have to go to the central office in Albuquerque for approval. He asked if the panel members' tribes have had to follow the same route for processing applications or if they have been able to send their applications directly to Albuquerque. The panel responded that they did have to follow the same route, but that the process may soon be changed. Another workshop at this conference will cover more detail on the IRR and Road Inventory Field Data System (RIFDS) processes.

To involve the public, you may need to go to them:
  • set up a table at the grocery store or library;
  • set up booths at annual dances or fairs; and
  • have youth take surveys door-to-door.

One attendee stated that he has had trouble convincing the public to attend meetings and was wondering if the panel had any innovative and effective ideas to address this issue. The panel said that offering food and door prizes generally helps. One panel member offered a $50 incentive to homeowners for inviting up to ten people over to their house for a small information session with the transportation planner. If trying to get the public to come to you does not work, then you may need to consider going to the public. Set up a table at the grocery store or library and try to get the public curious and interested. Also, setting up booths at annual dances or fairs has proven effective. One panel member found that having youth take surveys door-to-door has proven successful in getting people's opinions on transportation issues.

One attendee asked if it was possible to submit the long-range transportation plan into RIFDS. One panel member responded that you could do this by submitting certain parts and not the entire plan. However, this process is changing so that you will soon be able to just submit the entire plan.

It is important to have good relationships with neighboring local governments. Through such a relationship, one panel member was informed of a small grant for which his tribe successfully applied and was able to start a new public art program.

Another attendee wondered how the panel members' tribes afford both development of their transportation system and more general development (housing, economic development, etc.). To be considered for transit funds, one panel member responded that one approach is to "package" existing systems, such as school and elderly transportation services, into a broader transit system. Another panel member stressed the importance of having good relationships with adjacent governments, such as municipal governments, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and rural planning organizations. From these relationships, this panel member was informed of a small grant for which his tribe successfully applied and was able to start a new public art program. One panel member's 2 percent excise tax program was identified as another effective method for raising funds for development. Another method is to flex your federal funds by leveraging them for larger loans. It is also possible to partner with the county and state for Minor A and State Transportation Improvement Program funds. While smaller tribes may have a difficult time with some of these methods, it is possible for them to join consortiums of tribes to pool their resources when necessary.

To fund transportation planning programs:
  • One panel member's 2% excise tax program effectively raises funds for development.
  • Flex federal funds by leveraging them for larger loans.
  • Smaller tribes can join consortiums of tribes to pool their resources.

The last attendee with a question asked how tribes can place a tribal representative on local planning boards, especially since some local planning organizations see tribes as competitors and not collaborators. The FHWA and the FTA are putting together case studies on this topic, and successful examples do exist: the Pascua Yaqui tribe has a voting member on the board of the Pima Association of Governments (the region's MPO) and the Puget Sound Regional Council has tribal voting members as do other regions in Washington as well. Tribes should use BIA and FHWA staff to facilitate such efforts whenever necessary. One panel member said that tribal elders hope that younger tribal members will become part of the staff of local planning organizations as well.

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V. For More Information:

Key Contact: Robin Mayhew
Address: FHWA HQ Office of Planning
711 South Capitol Way, Suite 501
Olympia, WA 98501
Phone: 360-753-9416
E-mail: robin.mayhew@fhwa.dot.gov
Additional Contact: Richard Rolland
Address: Northwest & Alaska TTAP
EWU, 216 Isle Hall
Cheney, WA 99004
Phone: 800-583-3187
E-mail: rrolland@mail.ewu.edu

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VI. Peer Roundtable Contact Information

Name Agency/Tribe and Title Email and Phone
Robin Mayhew FHWA
Transportation Planner
robin.mayhew@fhwa.dot.gov
360-753-9416
Richard Rolland TTAP
Director
rrolland@mail.ewu.edu
800-583-3187
Eric Wilcox BIA Eastern Region Office
Community Planner
eric.wilcox@bia.gov
615-564-6870
Marcelino Flores Pascua Yaqui
Community Development Coordinator
marcelinoflores@pascuayaquitribe.org
520-879-6314
Salisa Norstog Navajo Nation
Principal Planner
snorstog@navajodot.org
928-871-6498
Kirk Vinish Lummi Nation
Transportation Planner
kirkv@lummi-nsn.gov
360-384-2307
Don White Blackfeet
Transportation Planner
donywhite@yahoo.com
406-338-7887 x252
John Healy Ft. Belknap Indian Community
Transportation Director
cjohnhealysr@fortbelknapnations-nsn.gov
406-353-8469

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VII. Appendix A — The Development of Fort Belknap Indian Community's GIS/GPS Base Map

The contractor created this base map through the downloading of information from several different sources including the latest aerial photographs, topographic 7.5 minute quadrangle maps, 2000 Census data, and Tiger Line Files. Once the data was corrected, the contractor stored the information in a GIS database and produced graphic representations.

Some of this information was incorrect since some of the roads no longer existed or changed alignment after the time of the taking of the aerials. The tribes and contractor corrected the information by using Arc View 3.3 GIS software and Pathfinder software. After the tribes and the contractor decided to come to a compromise as to what was needed in the inventory, they decided to use A JOIN NUMBER to connect the GPS/GIS database and the BIA Access database. The consultant and the Rocky Mountain Regional Engineering Office developed this connection.

The BIA database had several columns comprised of the old 5704 Form. The database the tribes and the contractor developed was comprised of the BIA's database, which included such information as: Agency No., Route No., Route Name, Roadway Width, Condition, Surface Material, and Section Number. Since all of this information was being put in an electronic database utilizing Arc View 3.3 GIS software and Pathfinder software, Excel, and Access, the JOIN NUMBER was used to connect the GPS/GIS database and the BIA Access database.

Using GPS/GIS to update the IRR inventory represented a progressive use of technology and got the tribes up to par with the rest of the industry. After completion of the initial database, the technology proved to be a powerful planning tool for the tribes. For example, the tribes have since used GPS/GIS for developing the base map for their 9-1-1 Plan.

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Footnotes

1 For more information on "Pathways to Tomorrow" contact the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Northwest Region, at 503-231-6712.



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