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Nation improving reservation roads through Tribal Transportation Program

By

Louise Red Corn

A ribbon-cutting took place on Jan. 14 to mark the completion of improvements to City View Road near the Ponca City Osage Casino. Courtesy Photo/ON Communications

The Osage Nation’s nearly year-long project to rebuild City View Road near the Ponca City casino has been completed.

The $4.3 million construction project commenced in February of last year and was accomplished using federal funding through the Tribal Transportation Program, which funnels about $5 million a year to the Nation to spend on roads within Osage County.

That number may rise to about $6 million this year thanks to new legislation, said Justin Carr, the director of the Osage Nation Roads Department.

In addition to rebuilding City View Road, the Nation also partially rebuilt and overlaid Kelley Avenue.

“This project has had many hurdles to overcome over several years to reach completion,” said Carr. “It will provide drastically improved and safer traveling for decades.”

The Tribal Transportation Program has helped fund several projects, including $1.2 million for the Osage Nation Heritage Trails walking and biking trails in Pawhuska, about $15 million worth of improvements around the Tulsa Osage Casino location, all of the paving and sidewalks around the new arbors and community buildings in the three Osage villages, Chief Paul Pitts Road between Barnsdall and Wynona, and the new bridge in Pawhuska on LB May Drive, which had to be closed for more than a year due to a bridge failure.

Major future projects the Nation plans to support include $2.5 million to refurbish and widen the historic stone bridge over Bird Creek in Pawhuska in 2023, $4 million in improvements along 21st Street in Pawhuska this year.

In the early 2000s, the Nation only received about $1.5 million a year in federal road money, but that nearly quintupled when R.J. Walker, then the director of the tribal roads department (now a Congress member), invested in a massive inventory update and increased the amount of eligible roads from about 400 miles to over 2,000.

“We included all public roads in Osage County,” Walker said. “We said they were used to transport oil and gas to the marketplace and it flew through.

“It was a dramatic shift. It changed the Nation’s ability to build roads and bridges.”


Original Publish Date: 2022-01-19 00:00:00

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Louise Red Cornhttps://osagenews.org
Louise Red Corn has suffered from wanderlust for decades: She has lived and worked as a journalist and photographer in Rome, Italy, New York City, Detroit, Kentucky, Mississippi and Oklahoma, where she published The Bigheart Times for 12 years. She loves diving in-depth into just about any topic but is especially fond of covering legal issues, perhaps because her parents were both lawyers. She is married to Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn, who enticed her to move to the Osage Reservation in 2004. She and her husband live south of Pawhuska with one extremely large dog named Max, one extremely energetic dog named Pepper, and, if he bothers to make an appearance, a surly cat named Stinky.
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