March Commission Meeting Wrap-Up: ODOT feeling effects of winter storm; $68 million in contracts awarded
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, March 1 video teleconference meeting include a report on the state’s transportation response to the major winter storm in February and its effect on the highway system, the ongoing modernization initiative involving the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission and the year-round effort to educate drivers about important safety practices, including seat belt use. Contracts were awarded for highway projects on SH-9 in Cleveland County, SH-20 in Rogers County, I-35 in Noble County, US-412 in Major County and US-59 in LeFlore County.
Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz briefed commissioners on ODOT and OTA’s response to the major winter storm that affected all areas of Oklahoma in early February and its prolonged effect on highway pavement conditions. Together, the agencies’ crews worked 103,000 total man hours and used nearly 55,000 tons of salt and sand materials on highways, interstates and turnpikes statewide. Gatz noted that the cycle of the ground freezing and thawing along with increased precipitation will contribute to more potholes developing on highways through the spring and summer.
“At this time, there’s no way to know the full extent of the damage to highway pavements caused by the harsh winter, but there is no doubt that drivers will see more potholes and pavement issues in the coming weeks and months,” Gatz said. “Drivers need to be especially alert to highway crews making the repairs and slow down in work zones, whether it’s a small patching operation or a major resurfacing project.”
Gatz spoke about the ongoing Transportation Modernization Initiative, which includes evaluation of the state’s transportation agencies to develop more efficiencies through shared services across ODOT, OTA and OAC, which Gatz oversees as a cabinet secretary. Beginning in March, ODOT and OTA will combine the agencies’ bid lettings for construction contracts into one streamlined process and hold one combined bid opening on March 18.
Gatz also highlighted ODOT and OTA’s new year-round driver safety education and awareness effort, dubbed “Make Safety Stick: Everybody Click.” In March, the agencies involved are focusing on the safety benefits of seat belt use in Oklahoma, which currently has one of the lowest rates of compliance in the nation, ranking 43rd in seat belt usage.
At the request of several commissioners, Gatz provided information about the development of the market for electric vehicles (EVs) in the state and its effect on transportation funding. Currently, nearly 40,000 electric and hybrid electric vehicles are registered in Oklahoma, of which 4,000 are heavy commercial fleet vehicles. Gatz noted that more than 20 states have now implemented some sort of fee on EVs to ensure revenues to the transportation system.
Commissioners voted to award a nearly $16 million contract for reconstruction and widening of SH-9 between 72nd Ave. S.E. and 108th Ave. S.E. in Norman, the next phase of the ongoing effort to widen the corridor from two lanes to four lanes between Norman and Tecumseh. They also awarded a nearly $5 million contract to rehabilitate more than one mile of SH-20 pavement east of SH-66 in Claremore.
The commission also approved 10 resurfacing contracts to take advantage of the summer construction season, including I-35 north of Perry in Noble County, US-412 west of Cleo Springs in Major County and US-59 south of Heavener in LeFlore County.
Commissioners voted to award 26 contracts totaling nearly $68 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 27 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Adair, Alfalfa, Blaine, Caddo, Cherokee, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Craig, Grady, Johnston, Kiowa LeFlore, Lincoln, Love, Major, Murray, Muskogee, Noble, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Rogers, Sequoyah, Texas, Tillman and Woodard counties. A list of all awarded contracts may be found by visiting www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the February 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, April 5, 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.
Pavement problems like this large pothole on US-169 at SH-266 in Tulsa will likely plague many highways in Oklahoma this spring and summer following the harsh winter storms in February. The Monday, March 1 meeting of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission included a report from Secretary of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Tim Gatz about an estimated $1 million in upcoming emergency repairs to extensive pavement failures on US-169 in this area.
At its Monday, March 1 meeting, the Oklahoma Transportation Commissioners gave its approval to a nearly $16 million contract for reconstruction of SH-9 between 72nd Ave. S.E. and 108th Ave. S.E. in Norman, pictured here. The project is the next phase of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s ongoing effort to widen the corridor from two lanes to four lanes between Norman and Tecumseh to accommodate growing traffic volumes and development in the area.