(Washington, D.C.) -- Today U.S. Senator Murray (D-WA) announced that next year the Indian Reservation Roads program will receive an increase of about $16 million over last year's funding level.

Last year, the program received a total of approximately $263 million. For fiscal year 2002, the Indian Reservation Roads program will receive a total of about $279 million. The program will receive its fully authorized level of $275 million.

Senator Murray worked to secure the funding in her capacity as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. Last week, the Conference Committee passed the fiscal year 2002 Transportation Appropriations Conference Report. On Friday, the House of Representatives passed the Report by a vote of 371 to 11.

Today (12/4/01), the Senate approved the Conference Report by a vote of 97 to 2. The bill now goes to President Bush, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

"Throughout Indian Country, inadequate roads and bridges are hampering economic development, hindering tourism, and posing safety threats," Senator Murray said. "I am very pleased this $16 million funding increase was included."

The Indian Reservation Road system serves 562 recognized Indian Tribes and Alaskan Natives, and consists of 54,717 miles of road, 4,152 bridges and one ferry, which is in Washington state. About half of the roads are owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or tribes, and the other half are state, county and local government roads. More than two-thirds of the roads are not paved, and about one-quarter of the bridges are deficient.

"This support for improving infrastructure on and near Indian reservations is absolutely crucial to increasing employment, tourism, economic development and quality of life in these primarily rural areas," the Senator added. "I will fight for more funds for Indian Reservation Roads next year as well."