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Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota DOT to receive $23.8 million in federal grants for highway, rail improvements

Monies will be used to reconstruct a BIA highway and increase freight weight capacity on rail lines

2021-06-10T150021Z_2004547567_RC2RXN9YU5DA_RTRMADP_3_USA-INFRASTRUCTURE-CONGRESS.JPG
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg tours the closed Hernando De Soto bridge which carries Interstate 40 across the Mississippi River between West Memphis, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. June 3, 2021. Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON — The Oglala Sioux Tribe and the South Dakota Department of Transportation will together be awarded $23.8 million in federal grant awards for two infrastructure projects in the state, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced Friday.

The funds, to be disbursed through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants program, comes as a small chunk of the nearly $1 billion the RAISE program invested in 90 projects across 47 states, the District of Columbia and Guam in the 2021 fiscally year.

“We’re proud to support these great projects that will improve infrastructure, strengthen supply chains, make us safer, advance equity and combat climate change,” Buttigieg said in an announcement. “As in past years, we received far more applications than we could fund: this cycle saw about a ten-to-one ratio of requests to available dollars.”

The Oglala Sioux Tribe will be awarded $1.8 million for the planning and preconstruction of over 20 miles of BIA 2. The tribe plans to reconstruct the highway from the west edge of the city of Kyle to connect to SD Highway 44 on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

The SDDOT will receive $22 million to replace 87.7 miles of aging railway and upgrade over 120 bridge structures. It will also upgrade over 120 grade crossings, install approximately 80,000 main line cross ties among other general safety improvements to increase freight rail weight capacity and train speeds.

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The program selection criteria encompassed safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders.

Statutes regarding the disbursement of RAISE grants require that half of the monies be directed toward rural projects, while the other half must be directed toward urban projects.

Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Montana all received grants for planning or capital improvements, as well.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on local news in Sioux Falls. He also writes regional news spanning across the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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