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In February, the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected Alaska’s four-year statewide transportation improvement program, or STIP. Alaska was the only state in the union that had its STIP rejected.

With the rejection came great concern due to Alaska/s needs for transportation funding. The STIP is required by the Transportation Department as a prerequisite to receive federal grants that pay for roads, trails, bridges, and tunnels. 

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After Alaska’s STIP was rejected last month, state officials, including Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola (D-AK), went to work to ensure that the Transportation Department funding dollars were not lost. She began a series of conversations with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) to accomplish the task. 

On Wednesday, it was announced that the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) had partially approved its four-year spending plan, putting the agency on track to deliver $5 billion in transportation investments for Alaska roads, ferries, bridges, bike lanes, and safety improvement projects.

Rep. Mary Sattler Peltola (Photo/Levi Rickert for Native News Online)

Wednesday’s partial approval came after the agency rejected the state’s first submission, citing 24 pages of flaws with the $5.6 billion plan.  

Peltola said that given Alaska’s roads face harsh elements and require constant construction and maintenance, it is critical that the STIP gets fast approval.

“Today, I was happy to get a text from Pete sharing that the Federal Highway Administration had partially approved Alaska’s STIP to keep some of Alaska’s biggest projects on track. I’ll keep working to get as many highway dollars to Alaska as I can,” Peltola said.

After Wednesday’s announcement of the partial funding for Alaska’s STIP, Transportation Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Arlando Teller (Navajo) spoke to  Native News Online on the importance of the funding.

“This investment is essential for tackling the exceptional transportation difficulties encountered by Alaska and Native Alaskan Villages on a regular basis,” Teller said.

According to the Transportation Department’s guidelines, had the plan been fully rejected a second time, it would have had a lasting impact on Alaska’s summer construction window with ripple effects across the state.

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About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].