TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — The Cherokee Nation is among 183 tribes receiving a share of $8.6 million from the Federal Highway Administration’s Tribal Transportation Program safety fund to improve highways on tribal land.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Wednesday at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington that the Cherokee Nation will receive $525, 000.
The funds will add signal lights, better signage, and improved acceleration and deceleration lanes to the intersection of U.S. Highway 62 and Coffee Hollow Road, which is the entrance to Sequoyah Schools, Cherokee Immersion School, Head Start and Early Childhood Center in Cherokee County.
“We’re grateful to the Federal Highway Administration for investing funds that will make a busy intersection safer for Cherokee families, especially our children,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “With increased protection measures and better traffic flow in place, the intersection will be less dangerous for all citizens.”
Cherokee Nation Roads Department Director Michael Lynn said design work on the project is already underway, and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has approved adding a signal light to the intersection. Construction will likely begin in late spring of 2014.
The grant was submitted by Roads Department Transportation Planner Robert Endicott with the help of Sequoyah Schools Superintendent Leroy Qualls.
Congress created the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act -21 to improve highway safety on tribal roads and other transportation facilities, which are statistically some of the most hazardous in the nation, according to the FHWA. Their office received 240 applications, requesting a total of $27.2 million in assistance.
“Residents living in our nation’s tribal communities need and deserve safe roads and bridges, and we are committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to safe transportation,” Sec. Foxx said in an issued news release. “These new funds will help improve the safety of roads in Indian Country for everyone who depends on them and will improve the quality of life for the tribal communities they serve.”