WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Greg Stanton today addressed the serious transportation infrastructure challenges of Arizona tribes and advocated for increased federal support at a hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

The hearing was the first in 18 years on tribal transportation needs. Stanton and fellow member Rep. Sharice Davids of Kansas have been urging the committee to have this conversation.

“Many of the roads and bridges are a barrier to greater economic opportunities in our tribal communities because they need significant improvement or repair,” Stanton said to the panel. “The federal government has a trust responsibility to tribal nations, which includes providing the resources necessary to ensure the transportation needs in Native communities are addressed.”

Stanton visited the Navajo Nation last summer to see firsthand its significant infrastructure challenges. The Navajo Nation has more roadways than any other Bureau of Indian Affairs region—more than 11,200 miles of roads covering 27,000 square miles. Of those roadways, 86 percent are currently unpaved.

At current funding levels, the Navajo Nation estimates it would take 116 years and $7.6 billion to meet their current transportation and infrastructure needs

During his comments, Stanton entered into the Record letters from the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona, the Navajo Nation, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Gila River Indian Community that highlight their individual transportation infrastructure challenges and priorities.

Stanton asked Mary Beth Clark, President of the Intertribal Transportation Association, about the need to establish an Office of Self-Governance to oversee and implement the Tribal Transportation Self-Governance Program. Clark indicated that such office would make a significant difference in the Department of Transportation’s ability to respond to tribal needs.

Stanton plans to follow up on efforts to create an Office of Self-Governance, a request he said he has heard from tribes across Arizona. 

Watch Stanton’s full comments at today’s hearing: