July Commission Wrap-Up: New public transit office at ODOT announced;
Oklahoma’s bridge ranking continues to improve; $96 million in contracts awarded
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2019
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, July 1 meeting include announcement of the creation of a new transit office at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, an update on the state’s improving bridge conditions, details of emergency repair plans for highways in Canadian and Sequoyah counties damaged by spring flooding, removal of a section of SH-3 in Oklahoma County from the highway system and approval of funding for upcoming centerline rumble strip installation. Contracts were awarded for a traffic signal on SH-74 in Oklahoma County, local government projects in Norman, Midwest City and Tulsa County, as well as I-40 improvements in McIntosh and Okfuskee counties.
Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz announced creation of the new Office of Mobility and Public Transit at the agency as part of House Bill 1365, which was approved in April. The law significantly changes how the state approaches public transit planning and also transfers a program that provides federal funding to community organizations to provide bus and van service for the elderly and disabled from the Oklahoma Department of Human Service. The program will now be overseen by ODOT, which already administers funding for rural transit providers in small communities. Urban transit services in the metro areas – Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton – receive federal funds directly for their operations. Gatz promised a smooth transition with OKDHS leadership and a collaborative approach to implementing the law working with transit providers and professionals and the industry’s group, the Oklahoma Transit Association, over the next several months for a successful implementation.
Gatz also informed the commission that Oklahoma’s bridge conditions continue to improve. The state’s bridges went from being ranked 17th best in the nation last year to 13th best this year according to updated federal data. The state is on track to have less than 1 percent of all ODOT-maintained bridges rated structurally deficient by the end of the decade, which will put Oklahoma in the Top 10 for highway bridges. Gatz noted that many national reports cause confusion by putting all bridges on the highway system and those on local roads together when ranking the states. While there has been some progress, local bridges maintained by cities and counties in Oklahoma remain near the bottom of the rankings. For perspective, ODOT has jurisdiction over 6,800 bridges on the highway system, while cities and counties are responsible for 16,000 bridges.
Additional meeting highlights included:
- Gatz detailed emergency repairs to two highways damaged by historic spring flooding. A more than $156,000 repair of a washout on SH-4 in Yukon was completed on June 12. An estimated $588,000 project to repair two bridges on US-64 between Roland and Fort Smith, Ark. began this week and is expected to continue through August.
- The commission approved removal of seven miles of SH-3/N.W. Expressway in Oklahoma City and Warr Acres from the highway system to become a city street as soon as ODOT completes a resurfacing and traffic signal improvement project.
- Commissioners approved a programming item for future installation of pavement markings and centerline rumble strips at several highway locations in western Oklahoma, including US-270 southeast of Seiling.
- Gatz and the commission honored Russell Hulin, who retired as ODOT Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer in June, completing a 35-year career with the state.
- Rick Johnson was named to the Senior Staff position of Director of Capital Programs. He was previously Project Management Division Manager.
- Jared Schwennesen was announced as the new Rail Programs Division Manager for the department. He was previously the Assistant to the Director of Capital Programs.
Commissioners voted to award contracts for a $193,000 traffic signal installation project at the intersection of SH-74 and Waterloo Rd. in Oklahoma County and several local government projects using federal and city funds, including more than $9 million widening and bike lane construction on 24th Ave. S.E. in Norman, more than $4 million widening and sidewalk construction on S.E. 29th St. in Midwest City and $2 million intersection reconstruction on East 86th St. North near Owasso in Tulsa County. They also approved a nearly $19 million contract for resurfacing and cable barrier installation on I-40 near Okemah and nearly $16 million contract to reconstruct several bridges on I-40 near Checotah.
Altogether, commissioners voted to award 34 contracts totaling $96 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 26 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Atoka, Beckham, Blaine, Bryan, Carter, Caddo, Cleveland, Comanche, Custer, Garvin, Jefferson, Kay, LeFlore, Lincoln, McIntosh, Muskogee, Nowata, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pontotoc, Rogers, Seminole and Tulsa counties. A list of all awarded contracts can be found by visiting www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the June 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. The commission’s next meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 5. Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and project details can be viewed at www.odot.org.
The state’s national ranking for bridge conditions continues to improve thanks to a long focus on eliminating Oklahoma’s structurally deficient bridges. Members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission learned at their Monday, July 1 meeting that only 132, or less than 2 percent, of all highway bridges under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation are rated structurally deficient, which puts Oklahoma at 13th best in the nation for highway bridges. Pictured here is the ongoing $31 million reconstruction of the I-35 bridges over Deep Fork Creek in northeast Oklahoma City that were structurally deficient.
At their Monday, July 1 meeting, Oklahoma Transportation Commission members heard details on an estimated $588,000 emergency project to repair two bridges on US-64 between Roland and Fort Smith, Ark. in Sequoyah County that were significantly damaged by historic spring flooding, one of which is pictured here. A contractor for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation began work this week and is expected to complete the repairs by late August.
At the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, July 1 meeting, commissioners heard a report on the Oklahoma Department of Transportation efforts to repair a washout on SH-4 in Yukon, pictured here, caused by torrential rainfall and flash flooding in June. A contractor for ODOT completed the more than $156,000 emergency repair project and reopened the highway in six days.
(Editors and News Directors: For questions, please call the ODOT Media & Public Relations Division at 405-521-6000.)