August Virtual Commission Meeting Wrap-Up: Commission approves maximum rural speed limits
and updated CIRB plan; safety awards presented to ODOT crews; $74 million in contracts awarded
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 5, 2020
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, Aug. 3 video teleconference meeting include consideration of a proposal to adjust maximum speed limits on some rural interstates, presentation of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s annual safety awards, updates on a modernization initiative involving three transportation agencies and ongoing efforts to improve transit service for seniors and individuals with disabilities and commission approval of an updated plan for county road and bridge construction. Contracts were awarded for work on US-270 in Dewey County, US-77 and SH-9 in Cleveland County and SH-51 and I-44 in Tulsa County.
In a much-anticipated vote, commissioners opted to increase maximum speed limits on some rural interstates, including sections of I-35 and I-40 outside of urban areas, to 75 miles per hour as authorized by House Bill 1071. The recommendation from ODOT came after a year-long study of interstate conditions including roadway geometry, sight distance, collision history, traffic flows and existing speed patterns, along with extensive coordination with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol on enforcement. Speaking in support of the proposal were Rep. Daniel Pae of Lawton, who authored HB 1071, and Commissioner of Public Safety John Scully, who oversees the OHP. New speed limit signs are being produced and will be installed over the next few months.
The department presented its 2019 Safety Awards recognizing the ODOT divisions and crews with the best employee safety records from the past year. The Progressive Excellence Award for the most improved safety rating was presented to Division Seven, which is based in Duncan and oversees highways in southwestern Oklahoma. The Governor’s Safety Excellence Award for the best overall safety record was earned by Division Eight, which is headquartered in Tulsa and is responsible for highway operations in northeastern Oklahoma.
Commissioners voted to accept ODOT’s County Improvements for Roads and Bridges plan for State Fiscal Years 2021-2025, which contains nearly $880 million in projects to improve county infrastructure. The CIRB plan is developed in cooperation with county commissioners and their circuit engineering districts and makes use of designated state funds for major county road and bridge projects combined with federal, local and tribal money. The updated five-year plan can be found online at www.odot.org under Programs and Projects.
Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz updated the commission on the Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan to improve how the state delivers transit services for seniors and individuals with disabilities. As part of the plan, ODOT has been gathering input from transit providers and Oklahomans who use these services to identify needs and possible solutions.
He also commented on the year-long Transportation Modernization Initiative to identify opportunities for improved shared resources between ODOT, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. The agencies are working with a consultant, which has been conducting interviews with senior staff and department heads and gathering information on the agencies’ business functions and organizational structure.
Gatz recognized the agency’s Director of Operations Darren Saliba, who is retiring after 37 years with the department. Before being appointed to ODOTs senior staff, Saliba spent much of his career with Division One in eastern Oklahoma where he served as Division Engineer for nearly 20 years.
Commissioners voted to award a $21 million contract to reconstruct five miles of US-270 near Seiling in Dewey County as part of the ongoing effort to widen the Northwest Passage to four lanes between Woodward and I-40. Four more segments scheduled to go to bid between Federal Fiscal Years 2021 and 2025 remain to complete the corridor. Also approved were contracts for traffic signal and intersection upgrades at US-77 and SH-9 in Norman and bridge rehabilitation on SH-51/Broken Arrow Expressway at I-44 in Tulsa.
Commissioners voted to award 18 contracts totaling nearly $74 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 15 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Alfalfa, Atoka, Caddo, Cleveland, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Garvin, Harmon, Kay, Love, Muskogee, Pontotoc, Tulsa and Wagoner counties. A list of all awarded contracts can be found by visiting www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the July 2020 AM letting, clicking Go, then Award.
The commission met to conduct business in a video teleconference with members attending remotely as a public health precaution due to COVID-19. A recording of this meeting can be viewed online at https://vimeo.com/odot.
The nine-member Oklahoma Transportation Commission, appointed by the governor and legislative leadership to oversee the state’s transportation development, awards contracts for road and bridge construction monthly. Due to the Labor Day holiday, the next Oklahoma Transportation Commission meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8 and will be available for the public to view live on the web. Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and project details can be viewed at www.odot.org.
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(Editors and News Directors: For questions, please call the ODOT Media & Public Relations Division at 405-521-6000.)
At its Monday, Aug. 3 meeting, the Oklahoma Transportation Commission voted to increase maximum speed limits on some segments of rural interstates, including I-35 and I-40, to 75 miles per hour following a thorough study by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, as authorized by House Bill 1071. New speed limit signs, pictured here, are being produced and will be installed by ODOT crews over the next several months.
A project to replace the more than 2,000-foot-long Belford bridge in Pawnee County, pictured here, is included in the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s updated County Improvements for Roads and Bridge plan approved by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission at its Monday, Aug. 3 meeting. The narrow county bridge is one of the only crossings of the Arkansas River in the area and is rated structurally deficient and load posted to five tons.