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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it has awarded seven grants totaling $1.6 million to tribes through the new Rural and Tribal Assistance Pilot Program (RTA). 

The grants to tribes were part of an overall $3.4 million announcement for the RTA program, which is designed to support early-stage development of transportation solutions in rural and Tribal communities. Administered by the Build America Bureau, the RTA grant program supports early-stage development of transportation solutions with grants funding technical, legal, and financial assistance.

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The tribal grants will be used for a variety of projects, including feasibility studies, preliminary engineering and design, and environmental review. According to a statement from the DOT, the projects will include: 

  • The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation will use its grant to design a separated pedestrian pathway and lighting for the Connected Communities project.
  • The Nulato Village will use its grant to design, permit, and estimate the cost of developing a small port.
  • The Bois Forte Reservation Tribal Government will use its grant to conduct a feasibility study for a secondary evacuation route for Nett Lake.
  • The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa will use its grant to conduct an environmental study for the Willard Munger State Trail Connection.
  • The Karuk Tribe will use its grant to conduct a feasibility study and design for improved transit services.
  • The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians will use its grant to design and permit a new road and trail.
  • The Igiugig Village Council will use its grant to design and permit an integrated breakwater and barge landing.

“The Bureau is excited to work with these new partners to jump-start local projects and better position them to compete for DOT grants and explore innovative funding, financing, and delivery solutions,” Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “The response to this funding opportunity was astounding and has highlighted how impactful the Program will be for our rural and Tribal communities. This is just the beginning.”

The RTA program was created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in November 2021. The program allocates $10 million over five years to provide technical assistance for projects in rural and Tribal communities. The grants, which require no local match, may be used to hire staff or advisors to assist with early development-phase activities.

“As most of Indian Country is rural, we are happy to use these opportunities to work with them and ensure these historic opportunities under the BIL are accessible for all Americans,” said Assistant Secretary for Tribal Affairs Arlando Teller.

The Bureau received 406 applications requesting more than $127 million in funding. Of those, 70 applications totaling $19 million were submitted from Tribal applicants, according to a statement.  

The RTA program is one of several new technical assistance opportunities that the DOT has launched in recent years to help communities access federal funding and financing for transportation projects. The Bureau also administers the Thriving Communities Program and the Regional Infrastructure Accelerators.

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