WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the Ramah Navajo Chapter in northwest New Mexico became the nation’s first tribe to receive direct road repair funding from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The tribe will receive more than $644,000 from the Federal Highway Administration to help resurface nearly 10 miles of Ramah Navajo Route 25 – also known as Veterans Highway – on the tribe’s 168,000-acre reservation.
“These funds will make dramatic improvements to some of the most rural roads in the nation, while putting people to work in an economically distressed area,” LaHood said. “This project is a great reminder that investment in infrastructure is also an investment in people.”
Through the ARRA, $310 million is available for the FHWA’s Indian Reservation Roads program. Federally recognized tribes are eligible to receive funding based on highway projects’ estimated construction costs, volume of traffic along the route and the tribe’s current population.
The Ramah Navajo Chapter, represented by then-President Leo Pino, was among the first four tribes to sign an IRR Program Agreement in 2006, which allows tribes to work directly with FHWA for their IRR Program funding instead of contracting with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s BIA.