FHWA Announces $54.3 Million Grant to National Park Service to Improve Safety along Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced it is providing $54.3 million to the National Park Service for safety improvements on a lengthy stretch of the Natchez Trace Parkway. The funding serves as a key investment that will resurface, restore, and rehabilitate the pavement condition of 83 miles of parkway, improve safety by installing audible pavement markings and meet the transportation needs of multiple underserved communities. When the project is complete, the National Park Service expects to have a significantly improved roadway along a stretch of a historic transportation network used by those going to and from the seventh-most visited National Park Service facility in the nation.
“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re now modernizing more of the infrastructure that creates opportunity in tribal communities,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today, we’re proud to award over $54 million to resurface, restore, and rehabilitate over 80 miles of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi, making it safer and more resilient for all those who rely on it.”
“Millions of visitors travel along the Natchez Trace Parkway each year and support economic activity in the surrounding areas,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “The grant we’re providing to the National Park Service will bring safer travel and better access to recreational opportunities and natural and cultural resources along this parkway and help create good-paying construction jobs to get the work done.”
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Funding for the grant is being made possible through FHWA’s Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Project program and reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on serving Tribal communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law made significant changes to the program by increasing annual authorizations from $100 million to $355 million and ensuring tribal transportation facilities receive 50% of the appropriated funds. Critically, Tribes can apply for funding at 100% federal share with no matching requirement, a historic barrier for Tribal access to infrastructure funding.
The program provides Federal funding for construction, reconstruction, or rehabilitation of multi-modal transportation facilities that are situated within, adjacent to, or provide access to Federal or Tribal lands. A project of national significance is typically a higher cost project that federal land management agencies and tribal governments cannot normally afford to build because the project would exhaust their financial resources. The project is also considered important to the well-being of the area where the project is located and surrounding community, supports safe access to popular recreation destinations such as National Parks, or provides critical transportation support for hospitals and schools on Tribal lands.
The Federal Highway Administration has worked closely with the National Park Service to improve infrastructure in and around national parks such as the Natchez Trace Parkway for decades. That partnership has grown since the 2020 passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which provided funding to improve and expand recreation opportunities in national parks and other public lands.
Funding is also now available for Fiscal Year 2022 Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects in a Notice of Funding Opportunity and builds on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s efforts to improve the safety of the nation’s roadways for all road users and builds on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s efforts to improve the safety of the nation’s roadways for all road users. A key element of these efforts is the Department’s recently announced Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) discretionary grant program that will provide $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2022 to support regional, local, and Tribal plans, projects and strategies that will prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries. The SS4A program supports the Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy and goal of zero deaths and serious injuries on our nation’s roadways.
FHWA also recently announced a Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund NOFO of up to $120 million for Fiscal Years 2022 through 2026, made possible by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. To further assist the 574 federally recognized Tribes in addressing their transportation needs, FHWA has developed Transportation Funding Opportunities for Tribal Nations, a brochure that provides information on new highway programs created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well as existing highway and bridge transportation funding programs. FHWA also has a Questions and Answers document for Tribes interested in undertaking bridge projects. The Department also has the DOT Navigator, a new resource to help communities understand the best ways to apply for grants, and to plan for and deliver transformative infrastructure projects and services.
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation