January Commission Meeting Wrap-Up: Federal bill brings funding certainty and COVID-19 relief for ODOT, transportation milestones from 2020 highlighted
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 13, 2021
Press Release # 21-003
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, Jan. 11 meeting include updates on recently-approved federal legislation providing transportation funding and establishing a commission to celebrate the Route 66 Centennial, as well as recognition of state transportation highlights and milestones in 2020. Engineering contracts were approved for the design of future highway projects, including SH-9 in Cleveland County, US-69 in Bryan County and Duncan Bypass in Stephens County.
Secretary of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Tim Gatz thanked commissioners for their guidance and involvement during the past year, which was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption of life and work. He also noted that ODOT and its industry partners adapted quickly and performed admirably despite the challenges.
“I want to thank the department’s staff and our contractor and consultant partners for their hard work in the face of the terrible COVID-19 pandemic in 2020,” Gatz said. “It’s nothing short of amazing what ODOT was able to accomplish for the state in 2020 under extremely challenging circumstances.”
Gatz briefed commissioners on details of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was approved by U.S. Congress and the president in December. The bill includes reauthorization of federal funding through the rest of Federal Fiscal Year 2021, as well as providing additional COVID-19 relief for state DOTs. The bill also includes the America’s Water Infrastructure Act, a major reauthorization and streamlining of the federal water resources program. Provisions in the law will improve ODOT’s partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and accelerate repairs to inland waterways damaged by flooding, including the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in eastern Oklahoma.
Commissioners heard that the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act was also signed by the president in December. The law will guide the federal government’s preparations for the 100th anniversary of the “Mother Road” in 2026 and includes participation from Oklahoma with events to come.
Gatz noted that ODOT is preparing for the upcoming state legislative session and will be working with lawmakers as they begin to prepare the State Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Before the session begins in February, ODOT will appear before the Oklahoma Senate and the Oklahoma House of Representatives for its annual budget review.
Finally, Gatz presented the agency’s annual Year in Review, which highlighted accomplishments and milestones in state transportation from 2020. This included Gov. Kevin Stitt and ODOT’s announcement that Oklahoma is ranked a Top Ten State for highway bridge conditions, improving from No. 49 in 2004 to No. 9. Other accomplishments include the state’s first public transit plan, completion of major interstate projects in Elk City, Oklahoma City and Tulsa and milestones from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission. The video can be found on ODOT’s Vimeo website, https://vimeo.com/odot.
The commission voted to approve 17 engineering contracts for design of upcoming highway construction projects in ODOT’s Eight-year Construction Work Plan and Asset Preservation Plan. These include the design of SH-9 widening east of 156th St. in Norman, US-69 bridge reconstruction at W. Arkansas St., Kiamichi Railroad and Main St. in Durant and interchange construction on the Duncan Bypass at Elk Ave.
As is customary, no new road and bridge construction projects were put out to bid in December for consideration at the January meeting. The next ODOT bid opening is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 21.
A quorum of the commission met in person and others via teleconference to have social distancing in place as a precaution due to COVID-19. 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, Feb. 8, 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.
(Editors and News Directors: For more information, call the ODOT Media and Public Relations Division at 405-521-6000.)