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Sunday, 12 March 2017 16:34

Funding cuts could reverse transportation progress - $87 million in contracts awarded

March Commission Wrap-Up: Funding cuts could reverse transportation progress, centerline rumble strip projects coming to highways, $87 million in contracts awarded

Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, March 6 meeting include a discussion about the state’s budget and the impacts of funding cuts to highway maintenance, recognition of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s anti-litter efforts and approval of several centerline rumble strip and resurfacing projects statewide. The commission also awarded contracts for resurfacing and added shoulders on SH-66 in Oklahoma County and bridge rehabilitation on US-64/SH-51 (Broken Arrow Expressway) and SH-11 in Tulsa and on I-35 in Garvin County.

Following the recent announcement of a revenue failure and cuts to state agencies, Transportation Commission Chairman David Burrage, Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley and ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson had a frank discussion about the negative impact of state funding cuts, the state’s recent bond rating downgrade and the overall downward budget trend on ODOT and the state’s competitiveness.

“In the past decade, we’ve seen major improvements to our bridges, but that’s only part of the infrastructure issues that need to be addressed,” Burrage said. “With the same budget shortfalls facing our state year after year, we need to let the taxpayers know that further cuts to transportation funding will hurt the current and future condition of roads and bridges in Oklahoma.”

Video of this discussion can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/207192854. Since 2010, a total of nearly $437 million in state funding has been cut from ODOT.

Patterson restated to the commission that funding proposals being considered by the state legislature, including motor fuel tax measures, would not increase funding to ODOT. In fact, the governor’s proposed executive budget would direct nearly all motor fuel tax revenue to ODOT while sending the income revenue that the agency currently receives back to the state’s general fund, a move that would not increase ODOT’s budget.

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Executive Director Jeanette Nance presented the commission and ODOT with the State Agency Partnership Award from Keep America Beautiful in recognition of the department’s partnership in anti-litter efforts. The award was previously given to ODOT in 2012 and 2014 for its work with KOB to conduct litter cleanup events statewide. Thanks to efforts by ODOT and other agencies in 2016, volunteers with KOB were able to help state and local governments in Oklahoma avoid millions of dollars in litter cleanup costs. The department estimates that it costs $5 million annually to clean up litter along highways.

The commission voted to award several contracts for installation of centerline rumble strips to help improve safety on undivided highways in different parts of the state. Similar to shoulder rumble strips, the centerline pavement will be milled to produce vibrations and noise to alert drivers who drift from their lane. The department plans to deploy this safety improvement statewide to help reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by crossover collisions. A full list of locations receiving centerline rumble strips is attached.

Commissioners approved contracts to resurface and add paved shoulders to SH-66 near Luther and rehabilitate bridges on US-64/SH-51 (Broken Arrow Expressway) and SH-11 in Tulsa and rehabilitate two I-35 bridges near Pauls Valley and Wynnewood in Garvin County. They also approved contracts for numerous pavement improvement projects, including resurfacing on I-40 near Elk City, US-70 near Hugo and US-77 in Norman.

In all, commissioners awarded 46 contracts totaling more than $87 million to improve bridges, highways, interstates and roads in 32 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Atoka, Beckham, Caddo, Choctaw, Cimarron, Cleveland, Coal, Comanche, Creek, Dewey, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Kiowa, LeFlore, Lincoln, Logan, Mayes, Nowata, Oklahoma, Osage, Ottawa, Payne, Pittsburg, Pushmataha, Roger Mills, Rogers, Seminole, Texas, Tulsa, Wagoner and Woods counties. A list of all awarded contracts may be found by visiting www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the February 2017 letting and clicking Go and then Award.

The eight-member panel, appointed by the governor to oversee the state’s transportation development, awards project contracts for road and bridge construction every month. The next meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. April 10, one week later than usual.

Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and project details can be viewed at www.odot.org.

ONN