Sixty-eight road projects in 31 states will receive $93.9 million in Public Lands Highways grant funds to improve access to public lands, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced Jan. 13.
“The roads that carry America to and through its national parks, tribal lands or any of the other federal lands need help, just like the rest of the national highway system,” said LaHood. “These funds will help protect the roads for the many who depend on them and improve the quality of life for communities served by these unique places.”
The funds will improve and increase accessibility on the lands of 15 Native American tribes, 11 military bases, 19 national park units, 10 national forests and four national wildlife refuges.
Unlike most of the nation’s public roads, which are managed by state departments of transportation, federal lands roads are maintained by various tribal and federal agencies. Funds from the Public Lands Highways grant program supplement their existing infrastructure programs. They also can be used for cities and counties that are responsible for the roads providing access to federal and tribal lands.
Examples of this year’s grant recipients include:
• More than $4 million will be used to help improve road access to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek Township, Pa.
• Nearly $3 million will be used for road improvements near the forthcoming American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial in Washington, D.C., between I-395 and the U.S. Capitol. The memorial is anticipated to be completed by 2012.
• Nearly $2 million will be used to make tribal road improvements on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.
• Nearly $1 million will be used for alternative transportation improvements around the Fort Baker area in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California. This work includes pedestrian connection improvements, upgrades to National Park Service shuttle buses, planning for bio-diesel refueling capacity, and installation of signs, bicycle racks, benches and other related equipment.
• More than $1 million will be used to complete construction of the SR 101/t3ba’das Parkway on the Skokomish Indian Reservation, Washington.
This is the largest amount of grant funding awarded to public lands roads since 2002, and the second largest in the 79-year history of the Federal Highway Administration’s Public Lands Highways program.