STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – The Arizona Native American Caucus met this week to discuss tribal transportation programs in the state. The Navajo Division of Transportation, formerly called the Navajo Department of Transportation, presented on the challenges of building and managing the 14,000 miles of road within the Navajo Nation.
Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), discussed the unique process for improving infrastructure in Native communities.
“It takes a lot to plan and maintain roads on Native lands. It’s a long process with little funding,” Gonzales said. “The Native communities are subsidizing the rest of the state’s infrastructure with transaction privilege tax money.”
The Arizona Department of Transportation presented on the relationship between ADOT and tribal governments, statewide transportation improvements and the planning assistance for rural areas.
Rep. Jennifer D. Benally, D-Tuba City (District 27), stressed why roads in rural Arizona are so important.
“Roads are the lifeline to any community,” Benally said. “Without maintained roads, kids can’t go to school, employees can’t get to work and communities can become stranded. Distributing TPT money back to the tribes will help to build and maintain roads.”
Both ADOT and the Navajo Division of Transportation discussed the importance of their improving relationship.
Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), echoed the appreciation for the partnership and called for additional collaboration.
“Transportation is critical to the development in the Indian Nations. We have limited road development and improvement,” Hale said. “We need additional cooperation and assistance at state, federal and Indian Nation levels.”