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Johnson urges funding for reservation roads

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., announced April 29 he has joined in a bipartisan effort to include full funding for the Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) program in the FY 2003 Transportation Appropriations bill.

Johnson joined Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who is also the chairman and ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee on Transportation, requesting $275 million in funding for the IRR.

According to Johnson, the IRR plays a critical role in the economic development, self-determination and employment of Native Americans in over 33 states, including his home state of South Dakota. He said the IRR system includes 52,738 miles of road -- half are owned by the BIA and individual tribes -- and 4,152 bridges. Twenty-five percent of the bridges have been deemed to be unsafe.

The $200 million funding for the IRR in FY 2002 represented a reduction of nearly 30 percent, according to a prepared statement for Johnson.