April Commission Meeting Wrap-Up: ODOT kicks off work zone safety initiative, final segment of Tulsa’s Inner Dispersal Loop to be improved; $109 million in contracts awarded
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2021
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, April 5 video teleconference meeting include the kick off of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s work zone safety awareness initiative in April, a report on ongoing work to address pavement conditions following the recent harsh winter and comments on a major federal infrastructure proposal. Contracts were awarded for major projects on US-75 in Tulsa County, I-35 in Garvin and Kay counties, US-287 in Cimarron County and US-281 Spur in Canadian County.
Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz helped announce Oklahoma’s driver safety education effort in April, which coincides with the National Work Zone Safety Awareness campaign led by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Safety partners ODOT and OTA are bringing a year-round education and awareness campaign dubbed “Make Safety Stick: Everybody Click” to the public to bring attention to safety issues like seat belt use, distracted driving and basic roadway etiquette to help reduce crashes and save lives. Chief Engineer Brian Taylor added that there will be nearly 270 highway work zones statewide through the summer and that drivers must use extra caution in these areas that often have narrowed lanes, reduced speed limits and workers and equipment near traffic. In the past five years, more than 1,400 people were injured and 83 were killed in Oklahoma highway work zone crashes, including two ODOT workers.
Gatz updated the commission on ongoing highway pavement repairs following the harsh February polar vortex, where subzero temperatures and heavy precipitation stressed older pavements. An emergency $574,000 project is currently underway to repair a busy section of US-169 near SH-266 in Tulsa that experienced pavement failure during the winter storm. He also advised that the public can expect to see more pavement repair and rehabilitation work during the summer construction season.
Additionally, Gatz briefed the board on the Biden administration’s recent announcement of the American Jobs Plan, a more than $2 trillion federal investment in infrastructure. The measure includes more than $570 billion in additional transportation spending for roads and bridges, highway safety, public transit, Amtrak, waterways, reconnecting neighborhoods and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. While the measure must still be taken up and negotiated by the U.S. Congress, Gatz noted that Oklahoma is in a good position to take advantage of any additional funding thanks to ODOT’s short-range and long-range planning efforts.
At the request of District 3 Commissioner T.W. Shannon, Gatz provided some information on evaluation of agreements with tribal governments on highway projects in light of the evolving impacts of the recent McGirt V. Oklahoma ruling. The department plans to provide a more detailed report to the commission at its next meeting in May.
Commissioners voted to award a contract for a major $31 million US-75 improvement project on the east leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop in Tulsa. Work will include full-depth pavement reconstruction, rehabilitation of several bridges and ramps and addition of new lighting on the IDL during the nearly two-year project. This is the final segment of the highway loop around downtown to undergo major pavement reconstruction since ODOT began the effort in 2009.
The commission also approved contracts for three miles of I-35 pavement reconstruction north of Pauls Valley and I-35 bridge replacement at the Blackwell Northern Railroad south of Braman, as well as US-287 resurfacing near Boise City and US-281 Spur pavement rehabilitation near Geary.
Commissioners voted to award 20 contracts totaling nearly $109 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 14 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cimarron, Garvin, Kay, Lincoln, McCurtain, Nowata, Ottawa, Rogers, Stephens and Tulsa counties. A list of all awarded contracts may be found by visiting www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the March 2021 AM letting, clicking Submit, then Award at the bottom of the page.
All commissioners participated in the meeting virtually due to COVID-19 precautions. A recording of this meeting may 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.
Next month’s Oklahoma Transportation Commission meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, May 3, and will have a quorum of commissioners while observing social distancing. The meeting also will be available to view live on the web.
Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and project details can be viewed at www.odot.org.