Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States Oversight Hearing EventID=109756

Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States Oversight Hearing EventID=109756



the subcommittee for indigenous peoples of United States will now come to order the so committees meeting today to hear testimony and the status of tribal infrastructure as it pertains to roads bridges and buildings under committee rule 4f any oral opening statements at hearings are limited to the chair and ranking minority member this allow us to hear from our witnesses sooner and help members keep to their schedules therefore I ask unanimous consent that all other members opening sentence be made part of the hearing record or they're submitted to Clerk by 5:00 p.m. today or the close over the hearing which comes first hearing no objection so ordered good afternoon I want to extend a warm welcome to our witnesses thank you all for making the trip to testify for us especially president Javier of the Salt River Pima Indian community of Phoenix it's good to see you here as usual today we'll be discussing a topic that touches every corner of Indian country tribal infrastructure making sure tribes have the federal resources and support they need to maintain safe and functional infrastructure infrastructure in the community is a key part of our federal trust responsibility modern and reliable infrastructure is also an essential element of tribal sovereignty safety and economic development Indian country cannot thrive an infrastructure needs go unmet and construction backlogs linger over decades unfortunately that's exactly the position we find ourselves in today roads in Indian country continue to rank among the most undeveloped and under maintained in the United States according to the 2019 national tribal transportation facility inventory there are approximately 160 1000 miles of roads and trails in Indian country that are in need of federal funding this past Monday there were reports of a flash flood that washed out a section of a highway on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota which create a chasm that is 40 feet wide and 70 feet deep and resulted in multiple injuries and even fatalities this kind of catastrophic flooding has quickly become the new normal as climate change begins to impact our everyday lives Indian country as well as other rural and minority communities have always been on the front lines of climate change but without strong and well-maintained infrastructure to mitigate negative impacts Indian country will continue disproportionately suffer as a result of changes in weather patterns and worsening national disasters infrastructure investment is not only tied to the public safety of roads bridges and buildings on tribal lands it also serves an important economic purpose in tribal communities without reliable transportation systems for community members and bazaars tries may not be able to take advantage of economic development opportunities infrastructure investment also is a tool for economic development establishing projects that create good paying jobs located in and around indigenous communities infrastructure improving clearly belongs to the core of our priorities when it comes to honoring our trust responsibilities and promoting prosperity in Indian country that's why I look forward to hearing for our witnesses today about the unique infrastructure needs of their communities in addition to what we can do to help address them I would now like to recognize the ranking member cook for his opening remarks thank you very much mr. chair I feel like I go back in history when I was a young mayor on women I was never young since I've been elected but and we're talking about roads the infrastructure flooding and it's a situation which is very very difficult to deal with at a local level and when we talk about in Indian country it's even more difficult because of the history because of the records because of trying to find that data so that you can have a battle plan if you will to fix some of these things is at least in my opinion just much more difficult and it's an area that I think in Indian country these these some of these things that the Chairman was talk talking about have been ignored for a variety of reasons and so I'm very happy that we're having this hearing here it's very very important this is somebody that's been down this road before it's it's it's difficult you have to have a buy-in with multiple shareholders and you've got to recognize that there is a problem and I think we've taken the first step by having this hearing today and we can get the funds and allocation to address some of these serious deficiencies that have been around for a long long time thank you very much mr. chair Thank You ranking member now I would like to transition to our panel of expert witnesses today let me remind the witnesses that under our committee rules oral statements are limited to five minutes but you may submit a longer statement for the record if you choose when you begin the light on the witness table will turn green after four minutes they look the yellow light will come on your time will have expired when the red light comes on and I will ask you to please wrap up your statement I will also allow the entire pound to testify before we start questioning chair now recognizes the Honorable Martin Xavier the president the Salt River pima-maricopa Indian community in Arizona present Xavier has been employed by the community since 1996 and served as a vice president for three turns prior to his presidency as someone who has actively engaged with the community for more than two decades I'm interested in hearing his perspective on the current state of communities transportation infrastructure the chair now also recognized let's actually present Xavier why don't we go into your testimony first and then we'll go down the line Thank You mr. chairman members of the committee thank for this opportunity to speak here this morning on behalf of our our community to start off good afternoon my name is Martin Harvey I am the president of the Salt River pima-maricopa Indian community located in the Metro Phoenix area in Arizona where the community was once the outskirts of the Phoenix metropolitan area today we are an integral part of the growing East Valley in Phoenix the cities that border our community including Tempe Scottsdale Mesa are some of the fastest growing cities in the state the tremendous growth is best described by the average daily traffic counts on the freeways and major roadways in and around our community with three major freeways the loop 101 loop 202 the state route 87 nearly 400,000 vehicles passed through our community daily add to that an estimate 250,000 vehicles that travel on some of the large roadways in the community such as the McKellips McDowell Pima and Country Club Country Club roads there are more than 650,000 vehicles that travel daily through our community as you can imagine this puts a tremendous strain on the communities public safety and Public Works agencies that are responsible for maintaining and keeping existing roadways safe for travel additionally as the community continues to grow and expand it must also expend additional resources to plant and build new roadways mr. chairman the bottom line is that the federal tribal transportation programs are significantly underfunded for example on the annual basis our community receives ninety two thousand dollars from the Bureau of Indian Affairs for road maintenance and is forced to supplement this funding by nearly one-point million dollars further the community's five-year construction plan the Bureau of Indian Affairs funding will provide only thirteen percent or 1.5 million dollars of the of that overall budget clearly there is not enough money to meet the basic maintenance needs of our current roads let alone the funding necessary to support a robust 21st century transportation system as a result we believe an increase in funds for tribal transportation programs will help tribes establish maintain and perpetuate tribal transportation programs we also urge the committee to support additional set asides and other federal transportation highway safety and related programs as well as reduce the local match requirement for competitive grants to ensure federal funds to reach Indian country while our connectivity with other jurisdictions encourage economic development it also creates unique negative impacts most notably a significant number of vehicles use the community surface roads as an alternative to regional arteries this cut through traffic increases wear and tear on roads and creates the potential for safety issues in and around our residential areas currently our law enforcement agencies work closely with neighboring jurisdiction to address safety issues including reducing cut through traffic increasing lighting on secondary roads and adding pedestrian facilities to improve crossing safety unfortunately the tribe does not have access to most federal highway safety program and funding to support these activities I urge the committee to review and consider the recommendations put forward by the tribal transportation safety working group to help improve vehicle and pedestrian safety on tribal lands next our community is significantly challenged with efficiently acquiring right aways for priority projects according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs our community is one of the most highly fractionated reservations in the country as a result allotted lands have dozens and sometimes hundreds of ownership interest this fractionation and the process of working to get landowners on right away issues is further complicated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs regulations that are not very user-friendly mr. chairman the community as a matter of policy and practice believes in self-governance we fully endorsed the philosophy of removing the federal bureaucracy from tribal and federal programs and allowing tribes to directly use federal funding in the most efficient manner to meet the tribal needs we are proud to say our experience with tribal self-governance compacting has been very successful and is a perfect example of the most efficient use of the federal dollar that is why we support the effort to expand tribal self-governance capacity to all United States Department transportation programs as authorized by the fast act and we are proud to work we are proud of the work that has been done on this initiative which we hope will produce proposed rules for commit comment in the upcoming weeks in closing I am excited to report that our community was recently selected to receive a forty nine million dollar grant from the National significant federal lands and program project programs the grant will support the Pima Road redevelopment between the community and the City of Scottsdale and improve safety decreased cut through traffic and expand opportunities for economic development along major thoroughfare I urge the committee to support these kind of large-scale grant programs that support projects like this on tribal land thank you for your time and I look forward to your questions the chair now recognizes Gerald G seeking senior the chairman of the Red Lake nation in Minnesota a Vietnam War veteran chairman sneaky has worked for Red Lake nation in various capacity of 40 years and as act as chairman since 2014 considering chairman seekies rich history of tribal council service I look forward to hearing how you has witnessed ret Lakes nation's transportation structure change over years may begin Oh Nina Kenny where are you so I know they're similar just to City College remember cause mom did you see and do damage abortions are you gonna get on shabak give me go ahead showing him in over much of our gonna nope didn't they show everything this coin is gonna no you guys should be square on to buy my own you good afternoon chairman Gallego ranking member cooked and all our friends here my name is Daryl psyche senior chairman of Red Lake nation she me which for this opportunity to testify today on behalf of Ray Lake man chaplains released eight hundred forty thousand acre reservation is held in trust by the United States and is home to over 12,000 tribal members the remoteness of our relative relatively large reservation or a lack of good roads reliable communication system and other necessary infrastructure makes it difficult to provide public safety services promote economic development create employment opportunities at Red Lake I am here to talk about the BIE s failure to assist Red Lake in repairing our inadequate public safety buildings our crumbling trauma road system red lake has been tireless tirelessly trying to fix that dilapidated public safety infrastructure and our reservation years ago the BIE condemned its own law Enforcement Center a great lake but did not replace it because of lack of funds as a result my tribe was forced to borrow five million dollars in 2011 to rebuild it this year my tribe was compelled again to take out USDA loan to replace two dilapidated BIA firehouse replacement of these three federal building his responsibility of the BIA but because BIA would not fulfill its trust responsibilities we had to if the BIA was not provide funding to repair and replaces old facilities it should at least pay a fair and equitable least cost to the tribe we ask for your assistance and support to obtain these lease agreements for BIA road construction maintenance funding is another critical need at regulate all our need for improving our tribal road system increases the funding we receive as decreased in 22 in 2002 through the negotiated rulemaking process tribes agreed that a needs-based formula should be used to allocate Indian reservations road funding to tribes this fund is distribution was in fact from 2004 to 2012 however beginning in 2013 with the passage of map 21 and later to fact the distribution of tribal road construction funding shifted from a need-based formula to a population-based formula this change has permitted funding intended for Indian reservations to be diverted to County State and other non tribal roads over which the government has no trust responsibility to the detriment of reservation residents where there is no viable funding alternative because of this ship Red Lake has lost six million under map-21 and fast plus four point five million under the previous highway for a combined loss of 10.5 million since 2004 in road construction funding yet this formula manipulation continues to be used by the BIA despite repeated demonstrations by Red Lake and other tribes of gross iniquities it is causing fall extensive field work the u.s. Commission on civil race recently concluded that federal programs designed to support the social economic well-being of Native American remains chronically underfunded in efficient structure the Commission specifically identified reservation roads is one of the highest unmet needs it is imperative that Congress recognized the inequities that persist in the BIA tribal transportation program takes steps to ensure these inequities are corrected and shamea great for your support of our most immediate needs a trail eight-nation these needs really impact my constituents we need this subcommittee to help us make the BIA live up to its trust responsibilities Jimmy wretched in thank you the chair now recognizes mr. Lee Rikishi the chief Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Transportation which the GC has worked with the transcription program since 1986 and has spent time in both its Navajo Nation and Western Region offices as someone who has served in the Department of Interior for 30 years I'm interested in hearing his insight and the current said the BIA roadway roadways and other maintenance projects that we've just heard from the Chairman Thank You mr. Ishii please begin good afternoon chairman Gallo ranking member cook and members of the subcommittee my name is Leroy DC I am the chief of the division of Transportation office of Indian Services within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Department of the Interior thank you for this opportunity to present the statement on behalf of the department at this oversight hearing regarding tribal infrastructure roads bridges and buildings infrastructure continues to be a critical part of the well-being of tribal and rural communities one of the many barriers to economic development in Indian communities is the lack of physical infrastructure the Department the Bureau of Indian education the BIA remain committed to improving and adequately maintained in tribal infrastructure to provide increase public safety security and economic development opportunities in Indian communities safe roads bridges and buildings are important with transportation when transporting and supporting people in rural areas to and from schools and to local hospitals and for delivering emergency services I appreciate this opportunity show the subcommittee the status and need for tribal infrastructure improvement and maintenance as we work with tribal local and federal stakeholders in the implementation of the tribal infrastructure programs the department through the BIA ministers and partners with the other federal agencies and the implementation of tribal programs that support construction reconstruction improvement repair and maintenance of facilities such as roads bridges and schools BIA together with its partner in the Federal Highway Administration oversees planning design construction reconstruction of eligible transportation facilities through the tribal transportation program the BIA oversees the BIA road maintenance program for the maintenance of BIA transportation facilities the surface transportation Assistance Act of 1982 established Indian reservation roads program and funded with federal highway federal aid dollars since the establishment of the ir program and I'll call the tribal transportation program or TTP and under subsequent transportation authorization the total federal construction authorization for tribal transportation has exceeded ten billion dollars the investments have contributed to the improvement and maintenance of roads the replacement and rehabilitation of deficient bridges and the creation or maintenance of safety and transit projects on or near tribal lands which national tribal transportation facility inventory is the listing of eligible public transportation facilities which which the TT funding can be expended upon the NT TFI as it's called risk consists of over 100 56,000 miles of public roads with multiple owners including Indian tribes the BIA states counties and local governments as well as other federal agencies we believe Congress have viewed infrastructure improvement as a joint responsibility including not only federal agencies but also state local governments with transportation investments on ordinary American Indian and Alaska Native communities there are approximately a thousand bridges bie bridges across Indian country and about 170 are considered deficient additionally there are approximately 2400 bridges with Indian country that are the responsibility of other public authorities such as states counties and talents these bridges approximately 390 are considered deficient coordination among all these stakeholders as required in order to maximize available resources and address the regional transportation needs BIA and federal highways and tribes will continue to invest in transportation resources and transportation projects primarily that are actually the responsibility of other public authorities strengthening existing partnerships is a really essential part of continue this process an investment in tribal transportation is truly an investment in the local economy under the bi8 road maintenance program there is approximately 29,000 100 miles of roads that make up that portion of the larger 156,000 miles I mentioned earlier approximately 58 percent of these roads BIA roads are unimproved and earth earth rose and 16% are gravel surface the deferred maintenance that has currently been recorded in at the end of FY 2018 is 390 million in FY 2018 thirty two point six million of the tribal priority allocation funding was made available for the performance of road maintenance fast Act which was enacted back in 2015 provided not only a continuation of the use of the formula established under the map-21 moving ahead for progress and 21st century Act but also provide continue to support the formula established under that that enacted that law that fast that continues to provide new provisions for improvements of the transportation programs one recently was the data collection on program activities with this information that is required of all entities that is to provide the description the names the status of projects and activities along with the number of jobs created and retain the reporting in the initial years is indicated that there are 1,500 jobs that have been retained and 5000 jobs that have been created annually this is based on 900 projects and active projects with a total cost of 2.7 billion apartment is committed to working with this subcommittee and others in Congress to add to address tribal infrastructure needs and share successes in any country thank you for the opportunity to testify today and I'd be happy to answer any questions thank you I think the expert witnesses for their powerful testimonies reminding the members that committee rule 3 D imposes a five-minute limit on questions the Chairman will now recognize members for any questions that may wish to ask the witnesses I will start by recognizing myself for five minutes president Javier thank you for coming in your testimony you mentioned inequities in passenger and pedestrian safety on tribal lands what factors would just say most contribute to these inequities sorry what contributes that is really what I would mentioned earlier in the statement is that the commuter is experiencing a lot of cut through traffic our community again is located between the cities of Scottsdale Tempe Mesa pretty much surrounded by the cities some individuals have found it faster instead of taking the freeway system which also surrounds our our community it's faster just to cut through our community to get from point A to point B the current concern is is that with again the usage of the road not being able to maintain it because of that usage because of the funding we get there's a concern also of those that come through are not obeying the laws of the community there's a concern from our members of our community of individuals again just not obeying the laws and the fear of somebody's going to get seriously injured at one one point as you've noted your communities parks major I've been feeding remember the Phoenix presents unique challenges to infrastructure affairs can you expand on what actual Road and maintenance entails in your community what are the structural additions you need or are going through right now so right now in the community and I'll just say up front the community really receives a lack of funding from the from the Department of Interior right now we receive $1,300 per mile per year for maintenance on our roads our our staff tell us that it takes ten thousand dollars per year to maintain the roads so we're significantly underfunded as far as maintaining the road itself but what we're also facing is because when our community was created there was a lull Ottman act during the does time that created a lot mints which individual landowners now owned property in the community so right away when development happens in maintaining our roads if infrastructure needs to be put in there's a cost to the tribe again because of the money that we receive the tribe has to do forward and fund the cost of the right of ways for infrastructure in those areas so there's a big cost that comes back to the to the community we aren't chairman trimming Sookie you mentioned the tribe took responsibility for fixing BIA structures by taking out loans because the VA failed to repair crumbling infrastructure how did this reliance on loans affect your community's economic development thank you cheering okay let's start over the fire current fire halls are deal applicated and I'll give you give you guys a example this past winter in the cold winter we had a fire at one of our buildings of home buildings the housing our brand new fire truck that's in an hour those fire halls wouldn't start so our neighboring our staff called Alaskan Township our neighboring thomna lives nearby us were called and they responded a lot better than bie responds when we need help and we have a fire department in another district is Ponemah 35 miles away they respond and they wouldn't help to put the fire off that's just an example and there's many things that are miss cherry I don't want to cut out but I also don't want to go over my time and I want to make sure I get a response from mr. Ishii chief key she and Chairman C Keys testimony he mentioned the baby failed to maintain public safety infrastructure and your testimony you say that the Department the Bureau of Indian education the BIA remain committed to improving ethically maintaining tribal infrastructure how do you explain PIH failure to maintain tribal public infrastructure in light of what you just wrote would you send your testimony and what chairman Sikhi just told us I apologize there are two funding sources that come to the Bureau of Union Affairs through the federal highway administration and one through the part of Interior for maintenance purposes there are the funds that are provided are provided through the partner to your appropriations and that average is at about 29 to 30 million a year from the federal highway administration which is a reconstruction is also eligible for road maintenance there's approximately 495 million dollars but the requirements that are associated with that do require more of the planning design those areas that are necessary for project improvement so as you can see the funds that are available for road maintenance are strictly for those things that are entailing in a lot of the areas primarily snow and ice removal so there's a lot of efforts mr. Chi and it hopefully at some point you can work with mr. Tiki to rectify the situation would by what it means necessary there but given given the failure that I'm hearing right now to meet the basic basic meant minimum standards of maintenance we just say there's more more reese's more resource for tribal infrastructure is required or needed so mr. Gucci I apologize excuse me more much the question is given the failures that I'm hearing right now would you say more resources for tribal infrastructure is needed in terms of resources that that's something that we continue as we mentioned our deferred maintenance which is a measure of what is not completed at the end of each year for in terms of road maintenance bridge maintenance and equipment replacement that number is currently at 390 million so it gives you an indication that there is continued to be road maintenance issues out there on angle basis take those yes thank you I yield my time to ranking member thank you very much I want to thank the panel for being here this is obviously a tough tough issue somebody local government have been I was in mayor of a small town and we started talking about transportation funds and infrastructure and I would always we'd getting a big hearing where they have a transportation that we had all the the cities and everything else and I used to beat up on the city of Fontana because Fontana got all the money and they would build all these Gucci bridges over the freeway while poor yucca belly got crap and I get excited about that I almost feel we're in a similar situation and sometimes it's hard to get the the attention the smaller tribes the ones that are in a rural area if I maybe I'm wrong but it's hard to get the attention the BIA and I know that we've had different legislation that has been passed and one of the things I ever the least liked is that if a tribe is really having serious problems with a whole plethora of issues that they call up you guys and gals in and say hey we need your help do you have a mobile training team that could come down here and help us organize our battle plan in terms of requests for fun and funding for certain things now I often times we couldn't afford the engineers or the lawyers or everything else and by being proactive I would like to see it where you go to the tribes at their request and say hey we got this X partiece we can help you here's what we suggest you do blah blah blah blah with a press with a price tag behind it and of course the other thing is we got to help you in terms of funding some of these things here and I think it's long overdue and I think the president was absolutely correct and some of these outdated laws the the way that they were written and they have got to be reviewed they got to be brought up to date they got to take the the the all this prejudice that was built in there and make sure that we take care of Indian country so that it's fair and equitable for all the tribal members that are associated with that I yield back thank you recommend right now recognize the good representative from New Mexico reserve Holland Thank You chairman Thank You ranking member I and thank you very much for all of you coming I know you came a long way your testimony is troubling to say the least and but I appreciate you coming and talking about it as the u.s. Commission on civil rights broken promises report does state physical infrastructure and economic development in Indian country are reliant on one another the federal government's failure to uphold the trust responsibility to tribes is illustrated in the under investment and tribal infrastructure which has manifested itself in the broken roads bridges and inadequate public transportation on our country's Native American communities the broken promises report also quotes the NCAI policy the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center stating this under investment not only harms the social physical mental well-being of tribes but impairs their ability to thrive an ability leverage and ability to leverage economic potential and tribal members participation in the American economy generally the federal government has a responsibility to tribal consultation to find practical solutions for infrastructure development and Indian country again I thank you for being here and I have a few questions first mr. Joshi the u.s. Commission on civil rights broken promises report explicitly states that of the 13,000 650 miles of roads in Indian country that are owned and maintained by the BIA 75% of which are unpaved are the most underdeveloped unsafe and poorly maintained road networks in the country this directly impacts tribal members ability to go to work school hospitals in an emergency and access the ballot box to vote what is the BIA doing to address the concerns about the fast X redistribution of construction funding from reservation roads to non tribal entities and along with the ranking members stated non tribal entities like states and counties or put another way what has the BIA done – number one address the disparities and tribal road conditions resulting from the funding distribution and – to uphold the trust responsibility by consulting with tribes about the funding changes so did I mean both those questions and important to note did were the tribes consulted before this went into place thank you the in 2000 beginning in 2001 there was a process of negotiated rulemaking with tribes for the purpose of solely developing a formula for allocating funds to tribes that process ended in 2004 with the publication of regulations that identified a formula and that was done through again the negotiated rulemaking with tribes again through a series of events in 2012 it was a regulatory forum in 2012 the Congress passed the map-21 Act which is moving ahead for progress in the 21st century and that big the formula then became and was changed and became a statutory formula in which the funds are allocated based on a formula identified in title 23 and that process as was mentioned earlier there was a shift of funding at various locations including information that was frozen in the formula that was previously negotiated and that's the formula that we continue to use today and that is of course a statutory formula thank you I'm trying I'll try to get chairman C key regarding your testimony that Red Lake had to borrow money to replace unsafe BIA buildings like a jail police station and fire hall as the BIA and you stated that they haven't but I'll ask the question has the BIA leased the new buildings you built for them and how was that him how is that impacted the tribe well first past me we submitted a proposal to be a under 638 for those police station and detention center in the fire Falls and they reviewed him and they reviewed the fire halls but they declined to do anything with the fire halls because they said the fire sprinklers were not in compliance with bie but however those buildings are compliance with USDA where we got the loans plus the state of Minnesota these are brand new facilities there are up-to-date facilities and are all fire stations that we are vacating that are dilapidated didn't meet the requirements but yet BIA paid for the maintenance and operation what's the picture here what's why are they doing it we've been punished for 500 plus years and they continue to punish tribes that's got a stop and use as Oversight Committee got a push bie to process the leases because the these are very new buildings they're updated there they're handicapped accessible your beautiful buildings plus the police station with your permission with your permission chairman what what can this committee do to help you get your leases approved you need to because your Oversight Committee you need to push bie get on their horse comply with the trust responsibility do you have with Native Americans there are treaties that are supposed to are responsible to take care of tribes that's that's what they're there for but yet to keep punishing us over and over and over and tribes have to borrow money what they're supposed to be doing and then it continues Thank You chairman I yield and thank you recommend for allowing our members to go a little longer now recognize the good gentlemen and I use that term very loosely from Alaska Don Young Thank You mr. chairman I have mixed feelings here because the jurisdiction of this hearing is well received but really it's supposed to be in transportation committee and that's where we're going to work on I like together to information because I've been working on this issue when I passed tillu my bill we had a I think better system is in place was replaced by map-21 with there was negotiation and so my one question is mr. Leroy under the Teague and versus safety a map-21 which is a better system are you referring to the formula yes the allocation yes well the difference is is the 2004 regulations was negotiated with the tribes and the formula in 2012 is the statutory formula well don't you believe that negotiation is a better better system of distributing money I think it's always a good policy to work with the tribes chairman that's my one of my Baker's there isn't much done now and in consultation with the tribes and we had that mic bill with a formula we could better serve the tribes and negotiation to do it and well you know I I'm not gonna pick on the BIA one of our problems is that we haven't funded the Congress has some fund as the program as it should have been funded and I think that's what we have to address and I would make one suggestion my three witnesses you've got enough lawyers this room that Takens put a lot of kids through college I'm saying write up the language you think it'd help you solve this problem and then we jointly with this committee and the transportation when you see if we can't get to the issue of this instead of just talking about at all times if we can't finish this issue with that mr. Chairman I yield back thank thank you represent young I now yield time to resume sotto thanks chairman and so East have to follow the Dean of the house but I'll do my best you know the irony isn't lost on me that the first roads bridges and buildings in North America or by our Native American tribes and many of those roads and routes are still in use today and yet we are here because the federal government is failing to help you all develop and continue to maintain those roads I in the modern era I want to welcome president Xavier here thank you for coming I want to welcome also chairman Sikhi thank you for being here and for standing up for your people and Americans our people and I want to thank mr. gishy for for being here and had a few questions in your testimony you mentioned BIA z– deferred maintenance backlog which reached 390 million dollars in FY to 18 how does BIA plan to work through this maintenance backlog I apologize there are two ways of dressing deferred maintenance backlog one of them is is obviously when a road is in deferred maintenance condition and needs maintenance it has one of two options to be either maintained or improved the improvement aspect of this is what we identify as part of the tribal transportation program so those are funds that are provided through the the federal aid program on the other side is the road maintenance so it's a process that has to be prioritized at a local level as to what those roads need to be if they need to be improved then that's the step that needs to go forward if they need to maintain then that of course is the options available thank you and how is this backlog already affected tribal communities on the ground it's affected the communities significantly a lot of these roads that you are denim that are identified in the BIA system of roads are roads in which through the years have word either developed locally or as part of earlier efforts and resource management in which when those services left those roads will continue to be that they were not designed they were not configured to support the traffic that is on them now speeds and likewise so the result of that is is you have roads out there that are as we mentioned in the testimony over 70% of these roads are earth and what we call primitive or unimproved thank you in your testimony you mentioned it's Congress's view that there is a joint responsibility with federal and state and local governments to invest in Native communities what is the BIA z– position on tribes investing in their own communities for transportation projects are the BIA is position is that tribes have been investing in the transportation infrastructure because they have the ability to prioritize the roads on an annual basis and they have the ability to make those decisions and so the result of that is is they are addressing the needs that come up immediately that they can foresee and what that does is it puts priorities on certain roads and does not allow other oates be improved or maintained so I'm glad that you believe that tribes should have tribal sovereignty and self-governance when it comes to infrastructure but what about tribes you can't afford that the the process of the program is is that if tribes request the ability to take over the programs of the federal government they can through public law in 93 638 if they do not then that response and the rest primarily with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for those try to contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and with the Federal Highway Administration for those tribes who contract directly with the federal highway administration now we talked about 170 of the 1000 BIA bridges being structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and another 2400 bridges within Indian country within Native American country which with 390 considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete what is the BIA is projected timeline to ensure that the 170 of its bridges are structurally sound and usable the the number of bridges that have been improved over since safetea-lu was enacted in which a set-aside was specifically established for the replacement of deficient bridges has been very helpful that number has come down from 25 percent to what we're looking at now at about 18 percent the result of that is a dedicated funding source specifically for replacing rehabilitating or replacing bridges that are out there so from that standpoint we are looking at about a hundred and five million dollar backlog for bridges that they consist of those 170 bridges and can you give us a range of how much it would cost to fix a bridge a range lower and upper mean it's it's really difficult to it's usually by a square footage location and approximation to materials that are available structural concrete number of things so I would not be doing justice and try to give an estimate if I can give a range though from lower to upper well when I used to do bridges you get a 100 foot bridge you're probably looking at around three or four hundred thousand dollars to do that since then it's probably double just because the cost materials thank you they yield back thank you represent our representatives heard Thank You mr. chairman Republican leader cook and our witnesses for being here today as a former chairman of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority's Finance Committee I have quite a bit of experience and the cost of building roads and fixing bridges and I would say that your estimate on repairing a bridge 100 feet long it's probably a little still under shot at doubling what you said again it's related to what you how close charted materials like my colleague from Alaska though we all know that it's been agreed upon as recently as January 2019 that these issues reside under tea and I that's the committee of jurisdiction so and not this committee but it's a great place to listen to the concerns and work to to find out what we can do to work together to get these resolved I think this is this is an opportunity for us to work together and again mister G she is a member of the Department of Transportation at the BIA you have a great deal of expertise in these infrastructure issues and as we've been talking about there's about 140,000 miles of public roads in any country of those about 29,000 that are responsible by the federal government pave gravel and dirt roads approximately a thousand bridges in your work you've undoubtedly seen how development can be hampered by red tape and onerous regulations like NEPA and other various environmental laws can you help us understand the effects of NEPA and these environmental laws and how the in cost the investment from from the tribes to work on these roads and the government what it costs to how much it hampers those those development costs I think the most significant impact is actually the the timing process in which the impact it is to the tribes in the communities and actually even the BIA if they're doing it the project in-house it is a process that's or is very linked Lea in particular projects or roads in which they have not had any previous work performed on them so it's a whole new process of starting from Ground Zero and it does take time we have projects that go as long as four to five years on the short end when we have to go through all that work just for a point of clarity for the committing the same laws that apply to non-indian territory infrastructure also applies to Indian country territory as well as that correct NEPA award endangered specie act all of those supplied to the tribal lands as well that's correct and so a lot of these areas are these areas that are most deprived from infrastructure are they strictly on land or do they cross over interstate highways I know in Oklahoma which we had the second largest Native American population in the country behind California I've done a tremendous amount of work working on the different reservations and nations where we've crossed over and there's been a work together with tribal communities County monies city monies interstate monies state monies so as our former Secretary of Transportation who was probably one the longest serving in the country talked about it was the various colors of monies to make these things work out efficiently and go and because of that we were able to get a lot done in Oklahoma it was a new program new pilot program and something I would encourage us all to look at as an opportunity because as you know I think we have 39 nations or reservations or tribal entities in Oklahoma and we've been able to work together with state federal local and other folks to make things happen and with that I appreciate the opportunity again I hope we gather great information here and get this over the transportation infrastructure and that we get the opportunity to get this fixed and mr. chairman I yield back Thank You mr. yeah the only thing that came out of here I think I think a lot of us want to pursue this and a joint hearing with TN I might be in order because we're crossing over at different jurisdictions and everything else we just want to sell solve the problems so on I'll throw that forward for consideration and I think there were a lot of things that illuminated we got a long ways to go on this and I hope we have more hearings on this thank you Rica member yeah this is definitely a start of a process and I think the most important reason why we want to have a hearing here is because sometimes the focus in the transportation subcommittee is too much just from the thousand foot ten thousand foot level we want to particularly have focus on Indian country to be able to start drawing out solutions and actually identifying problems so we could eventually turn this into legislation and of course atlas nation would end up going through the transportation subcommittee but the most important thing is obviously having knowledge first we're gonna do one more round of questions if the objection and let me continue with President Xavier in your written testimony you mentioned that your tribe has right away acquisition challenges in the relation to BIA rules regarding compensation signatures what do you think is the best solution to this well and I'm not sure what we can do with the current regulations that the Bureau has on on individual ownership of land but that's the I guess hardship that we're running into right now in development of our roads and home sites is just the concern that the tribe in trying to acquire rights away for development of infrastructure or or roadways has to compensate those landowners to to get that right away so it's another burden that's put on on the community of trying to get development done again for for the development or economic development in the community I'm not sure how we can get past the new regs that have been put in place by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as far as percentage needed for development right now it's you need a hundred percent sign off for development on on pieces of property for example we've been informed by staff an acre of land might have a hundred people that might have interest in that piece of property specifically talking about a lot ease and the Indian well I I'm not sure how many other tribes dis effect but you know our tribe is an allotment tribe I'm sure other tribes that have allotments within their community are facing the same conditions but anytime you try to do any type of development there's an extra cost that comes to the tribes and trying to develop lands by getting those right away access to two properties to to put improvements in in in your testimony you talked about how to try receipt of 49 million dollar grant from the National significant federal lands and tribal project program this will be used to develop project between the tribe and the City of Scottsdale the neighboring city is this the first time a tribe is collaborating with the city for federal funding you know no it hasn't we've actually partnership with the city of Mesa I mean the City of Scottsdale in the past and I believe it it was called the tiger grant back in the day and we've applied for that grant along with the City of Scottsdale and unfortunately we never were selected for any of the grants at that time but you're correct and we did mention that in our written statement that we are one of only six grantees nationally and we were the only tribe to be awarded funding through this grant so we're really excited about the opportunity of receiving the funding I really believe the relationship that we have with the City of Scottsdale on this project was very important and getting the grant also with the Maricopa Association of Governments their role that they played of getting this grant so we really look forward again we believe in getting this project completed it will help not only in the economic development but creating jobs it for safety it'll help the cut through traffic that's going through the community so in receiving this grant really excited about moving forward and getting this this construction of the road completed Thank You mr. president and I yield time to remember ranking member Cooke yeah thank you very much mister I you know the president was talking about Scottsdale and when I first went through that area I won't tell you how many years ago that certainly did not look like well its but it's very similar to California with growth and now you try to keep up with everything like that and you're really even more difficult situation in terms of urban planning it would before it might have been rural planning and how we address that is is going to be very very difficult but it's something we cannot ignore least in the in the West and maybe then the worth or what-have-you but more so in those areas where you have this tremendous growth and it affects tribal areas I want to come to the your your reservation but I'm afraid to bring my wife because it's in Scottsdale and I think would be broke after she shopped there for a couple of days but this is something that we have to recognize and I stand by my earlier comments that this is there's some larger issues here with transportation and everything else but just from the standpoint of my personal edification and everything else is hearing has been a success now we got to continue on this and hopefully sell something so solve some of these problems Thank You mr. chairman Thank You ranking member I never as a now recognized represented in Holland from New Mexico Thank You chairman first I just chairman I'm it sounds like such an easy thing to fix that we have uniform fire code inspection laws across the federal agencies that it just doesn't make sense that one agency would approve the fire the fire system and yet another one doesn't so that that it sounds like something that we should work on and I'm sorry that that is what is holding you back so thank you for sharing that with us my question will go to president Xavier with respect to the the 49 million dollar grant that you collaborated with if there are projects identified does the tribe participate in the application process for federal grants when they are joining with States cities or counties I'm not sure if you answered that yet so did we join with surrounding State County did you does the tribe participate in the application process for federal grants when they're joining with state cities or counties well I think the only grants that we've had applied for like I mentioned earlier was for the tiger grant and that was with the City of Scottsdale again the other area is the Maricopa Association of Governments which they play a part in us helping us receive the the grants so those are the two entities that we used as far as getting the current grant that we received and I believe they were also part of the tiger grant application process thank you and with the current funding levels you mentioned it would take 59 years to pave the dirt roads in your community what funding is this estimation based off of and does it include maintenance costs so when staff identified I guess the unpaved roads in our community the mileage that came back to staff from staff was 52 miles of unpaved roads and the estimate cost was 113 million dollars and the sixty-year that we put in our our testimony is based on the funding that we currently received from the bureau if if we received I think $1,100 a year for to build a road it would take us 60 years to build these 52 miles of unpaved roads right that sounds absurd of course thinking that you can do anything with eleven hundred dollars or even ninety-two thousand dollars in 2019 so I truly appreciate all of you coming and commit to working with my committee members than the Chairman to remedy this situation thank you thank you observe Alan I want to thank the witnesses for their available testimony and the members for their questions we learned a lot about the current state of travel M structure today my hope is that BIA adheres to its commitments also to travel nations by supporting their exertions of sovereignty in the development of infrastructure the members of the committee may have some additional questions for the witnesses and we will ask you to respond to those in writing on a committee ruled 3:0 met with Rio members of the committee must submit witness questions within three business days following the hearing and the hearing record will be held open for 10 business days for these responses if there is no further business without objection the committee stands adjourned

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