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Oklahoma leaders announce major federal funding request for rural highway projects

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Thanks to the request of U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, multiple, two-lane, rural Oklahoma highways could become immediate priorities with $65 million in additional federal funding. Thursday, July 8, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz joined representatives from Sen. Inhofe’s office in Ardmore announcing the senator’s Congressionally Designated Spending requests for eight rural highway Oklahoma projects. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will use the funds to resurface and add paved shoulders to several narrow two-lane, rural highways.

“Transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our rural communities, which is why we must accelerate improvements to these two-lane highways from the Panhandle to southeastern Oklahoma,” Inhofe said. “These investments will improve safety and travel times for all road users. I’m excited for the opportunity to help advance transportation projects important to Oklahomans.”

Drivers play a significant role in staying safe by driving responsibly. However, improvements to the highway system such as the two-lane highways will assist drivers with enhanced safety.

“Addressing two-lane highways is one of our biggest infrastructure challenges in Oklahoma, so we are extremely grateful to Sen. Inhofe and the congressional delegation for requesting this federal funding for our rural roads,” Gatz said. “An infusion of additional resources would allow ODOT to advance these critical projects in our Eight-Year Construction Work Plan, freeing funding for other priority highway construction.”

Oklahoma has an extensive highway system that is key to economic growth and quality of life in many rural communities.

“Many Oklahomans who work or visit the doctor in cities like Ardmore live in smaller neighboring communities, so we need high-quality roads to ensure safe and efficient travel in these rural areas,” Ardmore Mayor Elizabeth Glasgow said. “Federal investment in infrastructure in rural Oklahoma will connect communities, support economic growth and create jobs.”

Despite carrying far less daily traffic than interstates and urban roads, rural highways account for nearly 60 percent of all fatalities and serious injuries in crashes in Oklahoma. These narrow highways were built early in Oklahoma’s history for much smaller loads and slower speeds and now are inadequate for modern traffic. Adding paved shoulders to two-lane highways is an efficient and cost-effective way to improve roadway safety, as the wider pavement gives errant drivers room to recover and provides a place to pull over during emergencies.

All of the projects meet transparency requirements for Congressionally Designated Spending and are included in ODOT’s Eight-Year Construction Work Plan.

The rural highway projects being considered for funding are: 

  • Atoka Co: SH-3 from Lane to Farris, $16 million
  • Caddo Co: US-277 from Cement to I-44/H.E. Bailey Turnpike, $10 million
  • Jackson Co: US-283 just north of the Red River near Elmer, $6 million
  • Osage Co: SH-20 east of Hominy, $8 million 
  • Texas Co: SH-136 south of US-412 in Guymon, $8 million
  • Washita Co: SH-152 near Dill City, $4.6 million
  • Woods Co: US-64 east of SH-14 near Alva (Right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation only), $4 million
  • Woods Co: US-281 east of Waynoka, $8 million

The projects are shovel-ready and can be expedited once this funding is approved. The attached map highlights the rural location of the projects. 

This section of SH-4 just north of Yukon in Canadian County opened to traffic in June 2021 after a $13 million widening and bridge replacement project. This is an example of ODOT’s commitment to improving rural, two-lane highway safety by adding shoulders to give drivers room to recover from errors or pull over safely for emergencies.
Last Modified on Jul 21, 2021