Fixing Oklahoma’s Roads and Bridges
Governor Fallin, state lawmakers, county commissioners and transportation officials came together for a press conference on Monday to announce a plan to tackle infrastructure needs in Oklahoma.
The three part Bridge Improvement Turnpike modernization plan will include extra money for the Department of Transportation to fix all of Oklahoma’s 706 structurally deficient bridges by 2019.
Fixing all of Oklahoma’s structurally deficient bridges begins with the Department of Transportation’s eight-year plan and funding to follow through with the plan.
Governor Fallin wants lawmakers next session to increase yearly funding to the Department of Transportation by $15 million.
She also wants legislation to increase the cap on funding from $435 million to $550 million.
“That change will give us enough yearly revenue to virtually eliminate our current structurally deficient bridges on our highway systems by 2019.”
This adds another 126 projects to the 413 bridges already on the eight-year plan.
Next, transportation officials want to tackle county bridges.
Nearly a third of Oklahoma’s more than 14,000 bridges are structurally deficient.
Governor Fallin wants lawmakers to increase the percentage of Motor Vehicle Fees going to the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges fund from 15% to 20%.
ODOT is also giving as many as 1,800 beams from the I-40 Crosstown which is being torn down for up to 350 county bridges to reuse.
Deputy Director Gary Evans says the longitudinal beams will be safely recycled.
“We’ll bring them down; cut off the parts that are not reusable, have them inspected, refurbished, and reviewed by professional engineers to make sure that they have the existing life expectancy for the county program.”
Evans says these beams should be able to last another 50 to 70 years.
Oklahoma County Commissioner Ray Vaughn says this will make a difference for the areas Oklahomans travel every day.
“We will be benefitting not only the public, but our school systems, our agriculture industry, our oil and gas industry, trucking industry, generate new economic development opportunities statewide for additional growth and commerce.”
The final part of the plan calls for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to expand the Kilpatrick and Creek turnpikes in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Deputy Director Tim Stewart says currently 55-thousand vehicles travel those turnpikes, and that number will grow.
“By opening these up we continue to provide growth and safety for our traveling public and economic development along these key transportation corridors.”
The Kilpatrick, from Eastern to MacArthur and the Creek from Highway 64 to US 75 will be expanded from four lanes to six.
Governor Fallin says all this work will move Oklahoma from the worst in the nation for roads and bridges to one of the best.
“The Bridge Improvement, Turnpike Modernization plan is very aggressive plan. It’s ambitious, but it will help us develop the kind of transportation system in the state of Oklahoma that we can all be very proud of. And, one that Oklahoma certainly deserves.”
State and local chambers of commerce are showing support for the new plan.
The Department of Transportation will provide an annual public report for the Governor to maintain accountability.