February Commission Meeting Wrap-Up: Oklahoma Transportation’s response to statewide winter storm highlighted; $100 million in contracts awarded
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 10, 2022
Press Release #22-005
February Commission Meeting Wrap-Up
Oklahoma Transportation’s response to statewide winter storm highlighted; $100 million in contracts awarded
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Monday, Feb. 7, meeting include a report on Oklahoma Transportation’s response to the recent statewide winter storm, updates on federal and state transportation funding and discussion of traffic safety issues, including seat belt use. Commissioners awarded contracts for projects on several county roads in Grant County, US-169 in Tulsa County, I-35 in Murray County, SH-51 in Cherokee County and US-412/SH-3 in Beaver County.
Secretary of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Tim Gatz briefed commissioners on the agency’s response to the early February winter storm that affected travel on roadways in all 77 counties. In addition to several waves of winter precipitation moving through the state, transportation crews faced extremely low temperatures, high winds and snow drifts as they worked to clear highways. Gatz also recognized the Stranded Motorist Assistance Response Teams, which are crewed by members of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Oklahoma National Guard. These teams assist stranded motorists and help remove stalled vehicles from highways during severe winter storms.
“Clearing Oklahoma highways was a statewide effort that took several days,” Gatz said. “The credit for that work belongs to our maintenance crews in the field and to our partners in law enforcement and emergency management.”
Gatz updated the commission on federal infrastructure funding and the state budget outlook as the legislative session gets underway. He noted that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by the U.S. Congress in late 2021 dedicates funding, including $53 million for Oklahoma, that will benefit bridges on the highway system and roads maintained by cities and counties. At the state Capitol, lawmakers will be considering new legislation and crafting the state’s budget, which is expected to be more favorable than in past years. Gatz mentioned that he hopes to see the full statutory allocation of state motor fuel tax funding restored to the agency for highway maintenance and operations after several years of cuts.
Finally, Gatz addressed the troubling nationwide trend of increasing highway fatalities. Recent federal data showed that traffic fatalities increased 12% nationwide from 2020 to 2021. Oklahoma saw a jump from 624 traffic deaths in 2020 to 729 in 2021, a more than 14% increase. In addition to excessive speeding and distracted driving, Gatz expressed his concern for the state’s low levels of seat belt use. In fact, about 50% of Oklahomans killed each year in crashes are not buckled up.
Commissioners awarded contracts for a nearly $12 million project to replace 29 county bridges in partnership with Grant County. The project bundles these bridges, including several small wooden structures, into one contract combining funds from a competitive federal grant with state and local resources. They also voted to award a nearly $14 million contract for reconstruction of the US-169 bridges over 76th St. North in Owasso. Additionally, several contracts were approved for summer resurfacing projects to improve conditions on highways, including I-35 near Davis, SH-51 in Tahlequah and US-412/SH-3 near Bryan’s Corner in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Commissioners voted to award 28 contracts totaling $100 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 23 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Beaver, Carter Cherokee, Cleveland, Craig, Custer, Delaware, Garfield, Grady, Grant, Harmon, Haskell, Kiowa, Major, Mayes, Murray, Noble, Oklahoma, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Tulsa and Woods counties.
The public may access a list of all awarded contracts at www.odot.org/contracts, selecting the January 2022 a.m. letting, clicking Submit, then Award at the bottom of the page.
Recordings of the commission’s meetings are available here.
The nine-member Oklahoma Transportation Commission, appointed by the governor and legislative leadership to oversee the state’s transportation development, awards contracts monthly for road and bridge construction.
The next Oklahoma Transportation Commission meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, March 7. The meeting also 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.