Oklahoma funding to increase for bridge repairs
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
6/05/12 at 7:31 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday signed two bills to increase funding to fix state and county bridges.
Fallin signed House Bill 2248, which will increase the allocation of state income-tax revenue to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation beginning in fiscal year 2014 to $59.7 million from $41.7 million. The amount will increase $18 million annually until the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Drivers Safety (ROADS) fund reaches $575 million.
The ROADS fund is used to address structurally deficient state highway bridges.
The measure raises the fund's cap to $575 million from $435 million and will allow ODOT to repair or replace the remaining 167 of 706 structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system.
Fallin also signed House Bill 2249, which beginning in January 2013 will increase by 0.5 percent the amount of motor vehicle fees going to the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges program, bringing the total allocation to 15.5 percent.
In July 2013, a 2.5 percent increase will raise the total allocation to 18 percent. In July 2014, a 2 percent increase will bring the total to 20 percent.
Each 1 percent increase will generate about $6.2 million more each funding year.
When fully implemented, it will increase the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges program by nearly $30 million.
The fund is administered by ODOT but benefits local county bridges and roads.
"Businesses and families don't like to travel on gravel roads," Fallin said. "They want to travel on roads that are safe and that are modern and having an outdated transportation system is not going to help us in making Oklahoma the best state in the nation for business development. And that is why improving our bridges and roads is so important to the future of Oklahoma."
Speaker-designate T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, is the House sponsor of the bills. For far too long, he said, transportation funding in Oklahoma has been neglected.
"We know that transportation funding is the one place where economic development and public safety intersect," Shannon said.
Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley called it a big day for transportation in Oklahoma.
"It may be the biggest day I have ever seen," he said. "I can assure you the department is up to the challenge of working with the private-sector engineering firms and contractors that will do the work."
The general appropriations bill, which set up the state budget for fiscal year 2013, also restored funding to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation in the amount of $206 million that had been cut the three prior years, said Terri Angier, ODOT spokeswoman.
Bridges in need
Here are some of the Tulsa County bridges on the state's unfunded, structurally deficient bridges list:
U.S. 75 over Nickel Creek
U.S. 75 over Apache Street
U.S. 75 over 41st Street
U.S. 169 over 51st Street
U.S. 169 ramp southwest over I-244
Harvard Avenue over I-244
Pittsburg Avenue over I-244
Yale Avenue over I-244
Oklahoma 20 over Bird Creek
Oklahoma 11 over Pine Street
Original Print Headline: Bridging the gap
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
The U.S. 75 bridge over 41st Street is one of the bridges on the state's structurally deficient list. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World
The Harvard Avenue bridge over Interstate 244 is among the Tulsa County bridges targeted for repairs by the state. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
The Pittsburg Avenue bridge is one of three over Interstate 244 that is on the state's deficient bridges list. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World