February Commission Wrap-Up: Federal funding issues highlighted,
$68 million in contracts awarded, new director appointed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2019
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, Feb. 11 meeting include a report on the effect of the recent lapse in federal funding on planned road and bridge projects, information on a new traffic incident management coalition, introduction of the state’s new Secretary of Transportation and appointment of a new Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director. Contracts were awarded for more than 20 highway resurfacing projects, as well as projects on I-44 in Oklahoma County and US-75 in Okmulgee County.
Executive Director Mike Patterson updated the commission on the effects of the recent lapse in federal funding that resulted in a partial government shutdown and delayed ODOT from putting many new road and bridge projects out to bid. While projects under construction were not impacted, many new projects with federal funding were moved out of the January and February bid lettings and will have to be reprioritized and rescheduled in later months. Many of these were bridge projects that had been deliberately scheduled so construction would comply with environmental restrictions such as avoiding the nesting season of migratory birds or to minimize the impact to bus routes during the school year. Some projects may be delayed by as much as a year, costing taxpayers more in maintenance expenses.
“While the Highway Trust Fund can continue providing resources for ongoing construction, a lapse in federal funding means that states like Oklahoma lose the ability to put new projects with federal funds out to bid,” Patterson said. “State funds can cover some of the cost, but federal funds are essential for the bridge replacement, major safety improvement and pavement reconstruction projects the public is expecting.”
Patterson also highlighted the official deployment of the GO-DOT motorist assist program on some of Oklahoma’s busiest interstates and the signing of the Oklahoma Traffic Incident Management charter. GO-DOT was originally introduced in the I-235 work zone, but will now operate on I-35, I-235, I-44, I-40 and I-240 in Oklahoma City and is planned for future expansion in Tulsa. The service has already reported nearly 200 motorist contacts in Oklahoma City. The OKTIM charter formalizes a coalition of more than 30 organizations including ODOT, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, local fire and police departments and wrecker services and will help guide uniform incident management training across different state and local agencies.
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority Executive Director Tim Gatz was introduced as Gov. Kevin Stitt’s newly-appointed Secretary of Transportation. Following a brief executive session at the end of the meeting, the commission voted unanimously to name Gatz the new ODOT Executive Director effective April 1. He will succeed Mike Patterson, who has served as ODOT’s Executive Director since 2013 and is retiring after a nearly 40 year career with the agency. Gatz will retain his current position on the governor’s cabinet and at OTA in addition to his new role at ODOT.
Commissioners awarded contracts for nearly 20 highway resurfacing projects throughout the state. These projects use state funds and will take advantage of the summer construction season, when warmer temperatures allow for asphalt paving. Highways to be resurfaced include eight miles of US-377/SH-99 near Madill in Marshall County and two miles of US-54 near Guymon in Texas County. They also awarded a nearly $410,000 contract for bridge joint work on I-44 over M.L. King Ave. in Oklahoma City and a $4 million contract for cable barrier installation and intersection modification on US-75 between Beggs and Okmulgee.
Altogether, commissioners voted to award 37 contracts totaling more than $68 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 28 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Adair, Alfalfa, Atoka, Carter, Cimarron, Cleveland, Cotton, Creek, Custer, Dewey, Garfield, Grady, Grant, Jefferson, Logan, McCurtain, Major, Marshall, Murray, Noble, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Sequoyah, Texas and Woodward counties.
A list of all awarded contracts can be found by visiting www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the January 2018 AM and PM lettings, clicking Go, then Award.
The eight-member Oklahoma Transportation Commission, appointed by the governor to oversee the state’s transportation development, awards contracts every month for road and bridge construction. The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, March 4.
Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and project details can be viewed at www.odot.org.
Incoming Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Tim Gatz is congratulated by members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission following a unanimous vote in favor of his appointment at the board’s Monday, Feb. 11 meeting. Pictured, from left, are District 4 Commissioner Greg Love, District 3 Commissioner Dan Overland, Gatz and Commission Chairman David Burrage.
GO-DOT, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s motorist assist program, is being deployed on Oklahoma City’s busiest interstates, members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission learned at their Monday, Feb. 11 meeting. GO-DOT was originally introduced in the I-235 work zone in Oklahoma City, but will now operate on I-35, I-235, I-44, I-40 and I-240.