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A $625,000 federal grant will fund a new tribal technical assistance center in Wisconsin. The center will be located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and will provide training, technical assistance, and technology services to 65 tribal nations across 30 states, including Wisconsin.

The Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) Center will focus on a variety of transportation-related issues, such as roadway safety, transportation planning, and infrastructure development. It will also provide training and technical assistance to tribal nations on how to access federal transportation funding.

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The center is expected to open in early 2024 and will be staffed by experts in transportation engineering, safety, and technology. It will also partner with other organizations, such as Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University and Cornell University, to provide a comprehensive range of services to tribal nations.

“This federal grant will help us to continue making strategic transportation investments on tribal lands,” Craig Thompson, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), said in a statement. “We are excited to see how this funding can leverage Wisconsin as a leader in implementing solutions to roadway safety on tribal lands not only in our state, but across 30 states.”

WisDOT officials hope the TTAP Center becomes a model for other states working to improve transportation infrastructure and services for tribal nations. It will also help WisDOT and the state’s 11 tribes build on their long-standing collaborative relationship, which includes initiatives such as:

  • Dual-language highway signs: Five tribes in the state have dual-language road signs on their tribal lands to welcome travelers to tribal communities in English and native languages.
  • Tribal Transportation Conference: This annual conference features presentations on safety, business and labor, cultural and environmental, and general transportation programs. It brings together industry, tribal, federal, and state officials.
  • Tribal Labor Advisory Committee: This committee aims to develop strategies to enhance Native American job opportunities on state and federal highway projects and other transportation projects by offering training, job matching, placement, and ongoing technical support.
  • WisDOT Region Tribal Liaisons: These liaisons serve as the first point of contact for all transportation issues impacting tribal communities, and they strive to develop trusting and mutually respectful relationships.
  • Tribal Historic Preservation Project: This project was created to strengthen tribal participation in WisDOT programming and projects with a focus on historic preservation and environmental issues.
  • Inter-Tribal Task Force: This task force is a policy advisory group that addresses any transportation-related matters that may impact tribal communities.