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Title: On Native Ground: Collaborative Transportation Planning on Indian Reservations

Author(s): Taylor, Brian, David Godschalk, and Michael Berman.

Published: 1995 by Transportation Research Record, 1499: 11-18

Online Access: http://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/361ONG.html

Abstract: A pilot transportation plan, applying the new guidance of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) to a Native American reservation, has been developed. This plan, for the Cherokee Indian Reservation in western North Carolina, was a cooperative venture between the federal government, the state of North Carolina, and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. Ways to increase tribal control over future transportation planning are recommended. Indian tribes are explicitly intended to benefit under the new, more open transportation planning process established by ISTEA. The study devoted particular attention to the nontechnical, process-oriented phases of transportation planning--much more than in most transportation plans prepared by outside consultants. Given the lack of tribal involvement in planning reported in the literature, it was assumed that such emphasis would be necessary. Despite the focus on process and local participation, efforts met with mixed success. Difficulties in accomplishing standard transportation planning collaboratively with a tribe include past intergovernmental tensions, a tradition of grant-seeking as a substitute for long-range planning, and a lack of tribal commitment to plans prepared by outside consultants. To overcome such factors, more substantial changes to the traditional transportation planning process may be necessary. The recommended approach brings tribal leaders and their concerns more actively into transportation planning. Lacking in-house transportation expertise and commitment to comprehensive planning, a more collaborative approach--combining the traditional, time-tested technical planning process with strategic elements--is suggested. Strategic planning, with its focus on the critical issues perceived by local leaders, is more likely to engage and capture the attention of tribes previously outside the transportation decision process. It is also more likely to generate plans that are understood and supported by tribal leaders.

Category: Transportation Access and Equity      Transportation and Social Policy     

See other articles by the author(s): Brian D. Taylor David R. Godschalk Michael A. Berman

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