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Navajo Voters Could Decide $200 Million Road Maintenance Initiative Nov. 8

Jeff Tomhave/Tomhave Group

Voters on the Navajo Nation could be asked to decide next Tuesday on an initiative that would pump $216 million into tribal road maintenance. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the Navajo Council recently passed the bill aimed at improving non-paved roads throughout the reservation.

The Transportation Stimulus Plan would upgrade 20 miles of roads in each of the Navajo Nation’s 24 regions. It would allot $36 million annually to the project from the Tribe’s Permanent Trust Fund over the next six years.

The initiative could appear on the Nov. 8 tribal ballot. Navajo President Russell Begaye, however, would first have to sign off on the bill. He has until later this week to consider it. Two-thirds of the tribe’s voters would then have to approve the measure for it to become law.

There are thousands of miles of dirt roads on the Navajo Nation that often wash out during storms. Impassible roads can hamper emergency response, decrease public safety, and can prevent thousands of Navajo students from getting to school. 

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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