Grant awarded to Tribe through U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s BUILD Program


TURTLE MOUNTAIN – Breaking news coming down last Thursday on the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (TMBCI) had tribal officials feeling good about future happenings on the reservation.

Tribal officials were notified late last week of a $15 million grant from the UD Department of Transportation to be used for the second phase of the reconstruction of Jack Rabbit Road.

The grant is from the DoT’s Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) Program, according to federal officials.

Ron Trottier, Jr., Turtle Mountain Tribal Transportation Director, said his office was excited about the news and couldn’t wait to share it with the community.

“we’re very excited,’ Trottier said after reading an email sent from the office of out-going

senator Heidi Heitkamp. “This is unprecedented for a tribe. We’re the first tribe in the nation to receive consecutive grants of this size… Great news for our tribe!”

Back in March of 2018 the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa received a $6 million grant from the same program to reconstruct approximately five miles of Jack Rabbit Road. However, the then awarded $6 million came via the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant. Trottier said the TIGER grant and the new BUILD grant are similar funding sources.

Trottier said a construction of Phase I will start at the highway by Dunseith Day School and go east five miles by the Barbra Azure residence.

The entire project can take 3 to 4 years, according to Trottier.

The second of the next four phases – of which the $15 million is intended for – is to reconstruct th rest of the 15 mile Jack Rabbit Road corridor or basically to Highway 5 in Belcourt.

Trottier said construction might be a long, slow process, but in the end, the all new Jack Rabbit Road will be on of the best and safest roads in and around the reservation.

Built in the late 1970s, Jack Rabbit Road runs straight through the heart of the Turtle Mountain Reservation. Because it wasn’t designed for heavy traffic, vehicles are forced to travel on the narrow, two lane road with poor road conditions having caused a number of roll over accidents over the years. Tribal members endured those poor driving conditions for years now, obviously taking a toll on vehicles, too.

Reconstructing this important stretch of road will definitely help alleviate any problems that everyday motorists had in the past.

And, like Trottier said, great news for the Turtle Mountain Tribe and its membership.

Trottier said bids will be out soon for Phase I of the project. He estimates Phase I taking up the entire 2019 construction season. The next phases of the project will most likely start in 2020.

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