Indian reservation roads

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Indian reservation roads

Postby vectorspace » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:17 pm

Hi everyone.

Now that we have the new forum structure, I am reposting this topic that has had no comment. It seems relevant for the Southwest as we have a lot of reservations, but its not exclusive.

I could really use the help of others around the USA that deal with editing roads on Indian Reservations. I have found in NM that there is a lot of inconsistency in the base map with regard to naming conventions. This is a repost from a while ago that had no replies.

I wonder if we could have something added to the Wiki that addresses this road naming convention so we can start fixing them in states that have such regions. The naming might depend on the particular tribe, but could be made consistent across reservations where it doesn't matter. Where names are tribe-specific and used there or marked there with tribal names, that could always take precedence.

Many of the road names currently seem to be be far too long to easily display on a small client screen. For instance, a common long name in NM is "Indian Service Route ###" or "Indian Service Rte ###." I have seen a bunch of other variations like Svc for Service. Of course, I would prefer ISR-### as something terse, but would go with the flow as SR-### and US-### are not used. A very common root naming seems to be BIA-### (Bureau of Indian Affairs). I did some research and a lot of the roads are funded by BIA.

Do you know of any reservation-specific naming conventions more broadly across the USA?

Do other editors in the US have other reservation road naming types that would be specific to their regions?

Thanks!
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby txemt » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:27 pm

Sounds like someone is about to set a precedent. Although there is something about it in the Wiki. I have to dig deep to find it, though.
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby vectorspace » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:05 pm

txemt wrote:?..Although there is something about it in the Wiki. I have to dig deep to find it, though.


I looked for that topic in the Wiki several times but didn't find it. If you come across it, post it here if you have time.
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby txemt » Wed Feb 27, 2013 9:09 pm

I went looking. Apparently, I'm going to have to get rid of the shovel and call in the backhoe. That's how deep it's buried in there. I remember seeing something about it a LOOOOONG time ago, but like I said....I'm looking.

Maybe it was the list of roads for the TTS is where I saw that.....
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby Daknife » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:44 am

Well from my editing around northern AZ, I just gave up and left the road named as they are. Most of them are dirt and have had zero traffic on them since the basemap import. I don't deal with Indian areas enough to know a good answer, the BIA option sounds good, but a two letter abbreviation would be better in my opinion, to match SR, CR, US, UT, AZ, NM etc... But I really don't care as long as a standard is picked.
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby vectorspace » Tue May 14, 2013 12:18 pm

daknife wrote:Well from my editing around northern AZ, I just gave up and left the road named as they are. Most of them are dirt and have had zero traffic on them since the basemap import. I don't deal with Indian areas enough to know a good answer, the BIA option sounds good, but a two letter abbreviation would be better in my opinion, to match SR, CR, US, UT, AZ, NM etc... But I really don't care as long as a standard is picked.


I'm working on it. I talked to the BIA road engineer on the phone several times, but we have not yet been able to get together.

All these roads are not state funded, they are mostly funded from BIA as the reservations are quasi-independent governments from the US. A naming convention like BIA-xxx would work but there may be some differences. Also, there are some roads that should be marked private as they are not for public access. I'll try to get together with him soon.
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby mapcat » Tue May 14, 2013 1:08 pm

BIA-XXX would make sense. Have you checked how TTS deals with it?
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby vectorspace » Thu May 16, 2013 6:32 am

mapcat wrote:BIA-XXX would make sense. Have you checked how TTS deals with it?


Not yet. I wanted to sit down with the BIA road engineer and talk about it before I suggested a modification there. I just have not matched our schedules yet.
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby vectorspace » Fri May 17, 2013 10:22 pm

I was able to have an initial meeting with Sheldon Kipp, Supervisory Highway Engineer at the Dept of Interior, BIA today. He provided information and seems very much interested in helping how he can. This is rather complex organization environment so explaining it is not that easy.

Background Summary

  • BIA manages and maintains a set of roads that are provided to them from various tribes or that they fund through federal funding. These roads are BIA-xxx roads and exist on Indian Reservations.
  • BIA places into inventory a large number of roads including tribal, county, state, and federal highways that tribes rely upon. This does not mean they are maintained by BIA, it’s just that BIA navigates a very complex role crossing many organizational boundaries.
  • BIA roads to not encompass all roads on tribal lands. BIA has roads in the contented US including Alaska, but not elsewhere. The largest holdings are through the Navajo Nation which spans AZ, NM, UT. Their busiest road is through Window Rock, AZ, BIA-12.
  • It is not true that all currently labeled roads in Waze such as “Indian Service Route,” “Indian Road,” etc., are BIA roads, so one cannot translate “Indian Service Route 23” to “BIA-23.”
  • BIA data is in Oracle and is hard to get at. Much of their data is in strip map images. It turns out that certain trial governments have full GIS
  • I have previously found some listings of BIA road inventories online. They are not hard to find, but they are organized not by road or route, but by segment (so includes many segments for a road/route) and they include other transportation features such as bridges.
  • The current system on the web is called “Indian Reservation Roads” but is being converted to the “Tribal Transportation Program.”

What should roads be named?

It is clear we can make some initial decisions given Kipp’s knowledge and advice.

(1) BIA roads should have a standard as “BIA-xxx” where the xxx could be up to six characters, but often now just three or four. This should be operational in the TTS as “B.I.A” plus the number or characters that follow. Current standard is four digits with leading zeros, but we can eliminate leading zeros on the map. New standard will have six spaces because they would like to use the first two spaces to have a letter or two that would hold a county (state county) designator.

(2) Many other tribal roads can have a generic numbering system as “TR-xxx” which should be expressed in the TTS as “Tribal Route” followed by the number or characters that follow. This would be equivalent to "SR-xxx" for state roads. We would need some local variation considered, so...

(3) There will be local variation on some tribal lands like there is among states. We should identify and document these seeking as much commonality as possible.

Next steps?

(1) Kipp is going to get me introduced to the Navajo DOT which has a full GIS system and perhaps another local tribe. The Navajo Nation is the largest set of BIA roads and other roads in the US.

(2) Kipp would like to get us data for the US reservations, but is trying to figure out the best way. Their database is somewhat archaic. Their graphical representation of roads is immense.

(3) There are a number of non-public roads on reservations that Kipp indicates might be marked as private.

(4) Kipp has his own objectives with Waze that would prevent routing down BIA roads that the tribe blocks off with a fence just before a regular public road or highway. We could edit the map to make sure that gate was represented by a gap in the road or some other such means. These gates are apparently placed by the tribe, just on their land, when the tribe wants to eliminate excess or obnoxious traffic from outside the reservation.

(5) A future effort will be to identify appropriate landmarks. This may work better with specific tribal governments.
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Re: Indian reservation roads

Postby Daknife » Fri May 24, 2013 2:52 pm

Just a note on this topic I did just update the road currently being paved to act as an alternate to the section of US-89 that is closed south of Page AZ. The basemap import name was Indian Route 20, but all news reports and the AZDOT page about the repair project have been calling it Navajo Route 20 or NR-20. I have a couple sections set to dirt but just renamed the entire length as NR-20 with US-89 Alt as an alternate name.

Once the paving is complete I'll probably move the US-89 Alt designation to primary and change the road type to Minor hwy until the main road is repaired, but I will keep the NR-20 as an alternate and will switch it back when mainline 89 is reopened.

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