August Commission Wrap-Up: ODOT watches federal bill; Contract approved for US-69/75 transformation
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, Aug. 5 meeting include updates on a federal transportation funding bill in Congress, approval of a contract for a major upgrade to US-69/75 in southeastern Oklahoma, the recent opening of the new Purcell-Lexington bridge and presentation of an industry award for an Oklahoma Department of Transportation public online mapping tool. Contracts were awarded for bridge rehabilitation and preservation projects on interstates in Braman, Davis, Edmond, Lawton, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Warner.
Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz informed the commission that the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee with bipartisan support last week and that U.S. Sen. James Inhofe worked with the department on the investment levels and policy changes proposed in the law. The bill would authorize five years of federal transportation funding, with more than $4 billion allocated to Oklahoma over that period. The bill still has a long process ahead working through both houses of Congress before possibly going to the president.
The commission approved a more than $150 million contract, with a significant $62 million coming from a federal grant, to completely transform four miles of the US-69/75 corridor in eastern Oklahoma, just south of Durant. The highway will be upgraded to a controlled-access freeway with interchanges and frontage roads, along with adjacent rail crossing improvements. The highway carries interstate-levels of traffic, is a major freight corridor and driver of Oklahoma's economy.
Additional meeting highlights include Purcell and Lexington recently celebrating the completion and opening of the new $38 million bridge between the two cities on US-77/SH-39. After a five-month emergency closure for repairs in 2014, the new bridge’s design was fast-tracked and the project was constructed and opened ahead of schedule in July.
The department's Strategic Asset and Performance Management Division, GIS Management Branch recently won, for a second time, a Special Achievement in GIS Award from Esri, which is an international geographic information systems and mapping products company. The GIS office developed a user-friendly portal that is a one-stop shop for visitors to find maps with bridge data, traffic counts, construction areas and many other helpful topics. Improvements like this mapping tool enhance the department's accountability and transparency to the public. The page can be found at www.odot.org under ODOT Map and Data Portal: https://okdot.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html.
Commissioners also voted to award contracts for rehabilitation and preservation of several interstate bridges, including Bender Rd. over I-35 near Braman, SH-7 over I-35 near Davis, 15th St. and 33rd St. over I-35 in Edmond, Pecan Rd. over I-44 near Lawton, N.W. 23rd St. over I-44 and Wilshire Blvd. over I-35 in Oklahoma City, Sheridan Rd. and Garnett Rd. over I-244 in Tulsa and I-40 over SH-2 near Warner.
Altogether, commissioners voted to award 26 contracts totaling $187 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 20 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Alfalfa, Beckham, Bryan, Carter, Cimarron, Cleveland, Comanche, Delaware, Grady, Jefferson, Marshall, Murray, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Roger Mills, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Washita and Woodward counties. A list of all awarded contracts can be found by visiting www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the July 2019 AM letting, clicking Go, then Award.
The nine-member Oklahoma Transportation Commission, appointed by the governor and legislative leadership to oversee the state’s transportation development, awards contracts every month for road and bridge construction. Due to the Labor Day holiday, the commission’s next meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3. Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and project details can be viewed at www.odot.org.