Tule River Tribe awarded $450,000 grant
The Tule River Indian Tribe has been awarded a $450,000 transportation grant to enhance public transit service on the reservation.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration on Tuesday announced the selection of 72 applicants that have been awarded funding for tribal transit programs. Among the 72 applicants in 17 states, the Tule River tribe will be receiving the largest share of the money.
The funding is awarded as part of the FTA’s Tribal Transit Program, which provides grants directly to Native American tribes for public transportation services on Indian reservations.
Vernon Vera, the tribe’s grant writer, said Wednesday that as part of the grant funding, the Tule River Tribe will make several infrastructure improvements.
The tribe’s original grant application proposed collaborating with the City of Porterville to provide transit services to the reservation through an additional route. Since the application’s submission, however, the city has agreed to provide free bus and demand-response service to the reservation — a service that began Dec. 1.
Vera said the tribe will be able to adjust the grant proposal and said the tribe proposes to construct more durable, weatherized bus shelters when the replacement of existing shelters, or new shelters in new locations, is needed. The tribe also hopes to use the money to extend one route with the purchase of a 12- to 15-passenger van to provide service to residents to live in outlying areas of the reservation. “We’ll be able to extend the routes within the reservation and go into some of the backroads,” Vera said.
If there are sufficient funds, there are also plans for constructing a small transportation facility on the reservation, Vera said.
The grant proposal states that the improvements will create and sustain mobility of tribal members and will benefit families and students of the tribal community. Additionally, the improvements will help save lives as less cars will be on the road. The grant application states that since the opening of Eagle Mountain Casino, traffic accidents on Reservation Road have increased by 400 percent, including at least seven fatalities.
“Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Tribal Transit Program will be to continue collaborative work with the City of Porterville, while enhancing infrastructure,” Vera said.
Rich Tree, director of Porterville City Transit, said the city is ecstatic about the grant awarded to the tribe.
“We are eager to continue our collaboration with the tribe and will help in any way that we can,” Tree said. “Tribal planners have mentioned that perhaps the grant will be used to enhance the tribe’s transportation infrastructure and this would be a great way to expend the awarded funds.”
Neil Peyron, chairman of the Tule River Tribal Council, said the grant will be a good thing.
“The TTP grant will do much to assist tribal members who lack dependable transportation for needed services off the reservation and will be a good thing for the reservation.”
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, Ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.