Bill streamlines government approval process and empowers tribes to improve road safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) praised the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) for passing his bill to increase the safety of roads throughout Indian Country.
The bill (S. 207), cosponsored by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), streamlines the permitting process for tribal road safety projects and requires the Department of the Interior to work closely with tribes to complete permitting and approval processes in a timely manner.
“Poor road conditions disproportionately affect tribal communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control, motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in Indian Country,” said Barrasso. “This bill will empower tribes to address immediate road safety issues like railroad crossings, rumble strips, and general pedestrian safety on tribal lands.”
The bill contains many of the provisions inspired by Senator Barrasso’s work with the late John Smith, former director of the Department of Transportation for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of the Wind River Reservation.
“John Smith’s commitment to improving transportation infrastructure earned him awards and respect throughout the country,” said Barrasso. “He inspired others to invest in transportation and road safety on the Wind River Reservation. I look forward to these important safety tools becoming law.”
During the 115th Congress, the text of S. 207 passed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) and was passed by the full Senate by unanimous consent.
On April 22, 2015, the SCIA held an oversight hearing on the issue titled: “Tribal Transportation: Pathways to Safer Roads in Indian Country.”
During his time as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Barrasso championed tribal road safety in the Senate. The highway law, passed in December 2015, included provisions from S.207 (formerly known as the TIRES Act) that substantially increased funding for the Tribal Transportation Program through fiscal year 2020.