First Annual Hopi Transportation Partnership Summit
Transportation, public safety key to reservation resource building
KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - Its not easy maintaining 250,000,000 acres of reservation that only has two state maintained roads, several paved Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) village and school area roads and virtually hundreds of smaller dirt roads located on rangeland utilized everyday by a 12,000 member tribe.
Several weeks ago, the Hopi Tribe, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), BIA Western Regional Office, Federal Highway Administration-AZ Division, Coconino and Navajo County, the Navajo Department of Transportation and the Navajo Nation met for a historic partnership to communicate, collaborate to provide a safe and efficient transportation system for people, good and services to the Hopi reservation.
Though the two main roads through Hopi are Highways 264 and 87, village roads and school bus routes are high on the safety and maintenance list for the Hopi Tribe's transportation task team.
The primary obstacle for completion and maintenance of these roads is money. While the BIA does have funds allocated to maintaining the paved roads on the reservation, the smaller dirt roads that connect these together are also an issue.
On top of that, there are severe problem areas like the area in front of Louie Pavinyama's home near the Hopi Civic Center on Highway 264. There is a major drainage problem in the steel culvert, which has washed out and closed that portion of major highway several times.
Funding sources being looked at to help bolster BIA road improvement funds include Safe Routes to School grant money. This money is for upkeep on roads that lead to schools, but also can include the development of walking paths, or bike trails, especially if these last two lead to the school grounds.
Given that the Hopi Tribe is also interested in getting their own tribal members to be more healthy by walking and running everyday for good exercise and diabetes-free living, this particular pot of money is particularly enticing.
Fred Shupla, Community Planner for the Hopi Tribe and a Transportation Task Team member said at the top of the list for improvement are the village roads.
"While BIA does provide money for these improvements, sometimes we have to wait until there is a combination of money to make upgrades. We have been lucky that both Coconino County and Navajo County have supported us in our requests to maintain our reservation roads. Its good, that we now have this year old resource-partnership to help us lobby the state and help them understand that these roads on Hopi must be a top priority," Shupla said.
Some of the obstacles that the Hopi Transportation Team has had to overcome are as simple as animals being in the road to weather conditions, which means more heavy rain and snow. Residents in Navajo, Coconino and Apache Counties are often forced to share resources, which means less money for Hopi roads including emergency situations.
With this partnership building initiated by the Hopi Tribe, it is hoped that there will be improved understanding of other's challenges, understanding of what money is available to each county and neighboring tribal entities thus promoting more effective communication.
Another tribal entity that was created for providing safe, reliable and cost effective transportation is the Hopi Tribe's Safe Ride van service.
With three vans running every weekday from Tuba City to Keams Canyon and back and forth daily to Flagstaff, this service is critical to getting tribal and community members to hospital appointments, laundry/grocery shopping services and other essential professional appointments over the 92-mile stretch of road from First Mesa to Moencopi.
For more information, contact Phillip Quochytewa, Chairperson of the Hopi Transportation Team at the Hopi Tribe at (928) 734-3113.
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