June Commission Meeting Wrap-Up: Funding for transportation restored in state budget; nearly $118 million in contracts awarded
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 10, 2021
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, June 7 meeting include updates on funding for transportation in the Fiscal Year 2022 state budget, briefing on federal infrastructure funding discussions in U.S. Congress that include possible designation of a new interstate in Oklahoma, an emergency declaration for repairs to the US-70 Roosevelt Bridge, and presentation of a beautification partnership award and of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s annual safety awards to the crews with the best safety records. Contracts were awarded for major projects on US-70 in McCurtain County, US-64/SH-51 in Tulsa County, I-44 in Oklahoma County and US-69 in Wagoner County.
Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz presented an overview of the state budget for 2022, which he was pleased to report restores state funding for highways and sets the stage for additional state and federal investments. In addition to increasing the appropriation of motor fuel tax revenue going to ODOT, the Legislature fully restored the annual allocation to the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) Fund and increased the fund’s cap beginning in 2023. The Legislature also authorized $200 million in bonds to help ODOT leverage low-interest federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans to accelerate major projects.
“I really want to thank the Legislature for making transportation a priority in the budget this year,” Gatz said. “State revenues have quickly recovered from last year’s economic downturn and this budget reflects the need to put more resources toward accelerating critical highway projects in ODOT’s Eight-year Construction Work Plan.”
Gatz also highlighted ongoing congressional discussions about federal infrastructure funding that include possible designation of a new interstate in northeastern Oklahoma. He noted that the current highway reauthorization bill is being moved through Congress in a bipartisan manner and that U.S. Sen. James Inhofe has offered a provision to designate US-412 as an interstate between I-35 near Perry and I-49 in Springdale, Ark. If approved, the designation would give ODOT a goal to work toward in planning future projects to upgrade segments of the highway to interstate standards.
The commission voted to approve $825,000 in emergency repairs to the US-70 Roosevelt Bridge over Lake Texoma in Bryan and Marshall counties following significant deterioration found during a recent maintenance project. While oversized loads have been restricted for safety reasons, the iconic 73-year-old bridge will remain open to traffic during the repairs.
The department’s beautification efforts and partnership with Keep Oklahoma Beautiful received national recognition with presentation of the State Agency Partnership Award to the agency from Keep America Beautiful for the fifth consecutive year. Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Executive Director Jeanette Nance noted that ODOT is one of only a few state DOTs to be recognized by KAB and that the partnership has been instrumental in the state having 77-county participation in the Great American Cleanup for the past 10 years.
The meeting also included presentation of ODOT’s safety awards recognizing its nine districts and work units with the best safety ratings in 2020. The Governor’s Safety Excellence Award for the best overall record was given to District Two, which is based in Antlers and directed by District Engineer Anthony Echelle. During 2020, the district logged only one lost work day out of 400,000 work hours recorded. The Progressive Excellence Award for the most improved safety record was given to District One, which is headquartered in Muskogee and led by District Engineer Chris Wallace. Additionally, the Director’s Safety Excellence award was given to the individual work units in each of ODOT’s field districts and the central office with the best safety performance. A video highlighting the winners can be viewed online at https://vimeo.com/odot.
The commission voted to approve a more than $23 million contract for reconstruction and widening of US-70 near Valliant in McCurtain County. The project is part of a longtime effort to expand the US-70 corridor between the Indian Nation Turnpike and Idabel in the area known for its massive timber industry and rapidly growing tourist traffic. The board also awarded contracts for highway lighting improvements on US-64/SH-51/Broken Arrow Expressway at Peoria Ave. in Tulsa, repair of vehicle impact damage to the N.W. 36th St. bridge over I-44 in Oklahoma City and resurfacing of more than two miles of US-69 north of Muskogee.
Commissioners voted to award 32 contracts totaling nearly $118 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 24 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Beckham, Blaine, Bryan, Cherokee, Ellis, Harper, Hughes, Jackson, LeFlore, McClain, McCurtain, Murray, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Ottawa, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Seminole, Stephens, Tillman, Tulsa and Wagoner counties. A list of all awarded contracts may be found by visiting www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the May 2021 AM letting, clicking Submit, then Award at the bottom of the page.
A quorum of five commissioners attended the meeting in-person while the remaining four commissioners participated virtually. 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.
Due to the Independence Day holiday, next month’s Oklahoma Transportation Commission meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 6. The meeting will be available to view live on the web.
Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and project details may be viewed at www.odot.org.
(Editors and News Directors: For questions, please call the ODOT Media & Public Relations Division at 405-521-6000.)