ODOT’s new eight-year plan approved; many highway pavement needs to be addressed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2015
At its Tuesday, Sept. 8 meeting, members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission gave their approval to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s Federal Fiscal Year 2016-2023 Eight-year Construction Work Plan, which includes $6.5 billion in state and federal funds for 1,800 much-needed projects to address the backlog of critical transportation improvements. Oklahoma’s transportation system is crucial for a growing economy, however increased traffic, extreme weather and decades of underfunding takes a toll on the state’s highways and bridges. Thanks to additional funding from the state legislature in recent years, ODOT is making continued improvements, like addressing the state’s remaining structurally deficient bridges, improving pavement conditions, making narrow highways safer and reconstructing outdated interchanges as part of a long-term plan to modernize. However, there are many more needs that must be addressed in future Eight-year Plans.
Highlights of the FFY 2016-2023 Eight-year Construction Work Plan include:
- Nearly $6.5 billion in improvements
- 1,812 total projects
- 913 bridge replacements or major rehabilitations
- 776 miles of added shoulders and other safety improvements to two-lane highways
- More than $2.4 billion in major improvements to high-volume highways and interstates
The Eight-year Plan is coupled with the Asset Preservation Plan, which focuses on extending the life cycle of highways and bridges through timely preventative maintenance.
“It’s been a decade since the state made transportation funding a top priority and in that time we have seen great progress in addressing structurally deficient highway bridges,” Executive Director Mike Patterson said. “The plan had always been to focus on our critical bridge issue first while recognizing that many highway pavement needs would have to be addressed next. As we get closer to reaching our goal with the bridge program, ODOT can turn the corner and focus more aggressively on improving pavement conditions statewide.”
Not long ago, Oklahoma ranked as one of the worst states in the nation for bad bridges and low investment in transportation. Since more state funding was dedicated to transportation through the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety fund beginning in 2006, ODOT’s primary focus in the Eight-year Plan has been replacement and rehabilitation of structurally deficient bridges. The number of structurally deficient highway bridges has been successfully reduced from an all-time high of 1,168 bridges in 2004 to 372 at the end of 2014, and all remaining structurally deficient bridges are programmed in the plan for rehabilitation or replacement by 2019.
With such a large number of bridge projects, which are very costly, more funding has gone to bridge improvements. As drivers have experienced, the state’s highway needs are also very great. For instance, the state has more than 4,500 miles of two-lane highways without paved shoulders. Additionally, Oklahoma’s extreme weather, including the recent harsh winters and unprecedented summer floods, has sped up the deterioration of highway conditions statewide.
Through the Eight-year Plan and the Asset Preservation Plan, ODOT will be putting more resources into improving and preserving highway pavements as well as adding shoulders to narrow two-lane highways and reconstructing major interchanges to make travel safer and more efficient.
Since being first implemented in its current format, ODOT’s Eight-year Plan has focused on addressing the state’s greatest transportation needs in an accountable and businesslike manner. The project selection process is very rigorous, as transportation commissioners work with ODOT’s eight division engineers and staff to identify the most critical highway and bridge projects and create a balanced statewide plan. Each year, the plan is updated to reflect project completions, adjustments in projected revenue and changes in construction costs. As the previous fiscal year comes off of the plan, another year is added based on forecasting of available federal and state funding.
A list of projects in ODOT’s FFY 2016-2023 Eight-Year Construction Work Plan can be viewed online at http://www.okladot.state.ok.us/cwp-8-year-plan/index.htm.