River development funding pushed by Sen. Jim Inhofe
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Friday, February 08, 2013
2/08/13 at 6:08 AM
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe on Thursday cited the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan as an example of worthy Army Corps of Engineers projects authorized but never funded.
"Corps projects are woefully underfunded with a backlog of $60 billion in authorized projects yet only a $5 billion yearly budget," Inhofe said in a statement submitted for a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing.
Inhofe, formerly the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, submitted his remarks in writing because of a time conflict with an Armed Services Committee hearing. Inhofe is now the ranking Republican of that committee.
As Tulsa mayor in the 1980s, Inhofe was heavily involved in the building of the low-water Zink Dam. He has remained supportive of efforts to repair that dam and to further develop the Arkansas River in the metropolitan area.
In 2007, he was able to secure authorization of $50 million for Arkansas River development, but the money has never been appropriated.
On Thursday, he cited the plan as an example of public and private cooperation.
"These partnerships are a way to unleash an enormous amount of private investments in public infrastructure," Inhofe said.
The plan is floundering, however. Neither the $50 million in federal funds nor $25 million promised from a state bond issue have materialized, and Tulsa County voters have twice turned down proposals involving Arkansas River development.
In the meantime, Zink Dam has developed a number of leaks and suffers from a substantial amount of silt accumulation.
"I appreciate that Sen. Inhofe continues to view funding for the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan as necessary and critical," Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Thursday. "Safety, flood mitigation, ecosystems and recreational concerns are all addressed in the plan.
"We are fortunate to have a strong voice for infrastructure development in Washington, and I will continue to work with Sen. Inhofe in support of these efforts."
Said Jim McCarthy, chairman of the River Parks Authority: "We applaud (Inhofe's) efforts to bring the situation to everyone's attention."
McCarthy said the authority "continues to have an open and productive dialogue with the corps" on Zink Dam and other elements of the master plan.
Original Print Headline: Inhofe pushes funding for river development
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365