Full Speed Ahead

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

I’m excited to report that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has a new rapid bridge-building program that will reduce the amount of time that we have to put up with construction zones and delays when a project is set along our route to work.

The new process involves a simple change. Parts or all of a new bridge will be built on location, next to an existing bridge and then simply scooted over to replace the old bridge. Unfortunately, this new process will not be used on every project, but only when the land surrounding the bridge makes it a practical solution.

Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley has also told lawmakers that transportation funding will be largely unaffected by the fiscal cliff. This is good news as the Oklahoma Legislature continues to work to ensure our infrastructure is updated after years of neglect.

During a study this fall, lawmakers learned that a 5 percent increase in tax axle loads can decrease the life of an Oklahoma road by about 20 percent and that a 10 percent increase in gross weight can decrease the life of a bridge by more than 20 percent. Because of this, one of the policy questions that will likely be taken up during the 2013 legislative session will be what we can do to ensure better enforcement of commercial vehicle size and weight laws.

County roads were especially highlighted during this discussion. It was pointed out that county enforcement officials do not typically enforce these laws because they receive such a small portion of the fine. Only three county sheriffs have deputies assigned to size and weight enforcement. One proposal made in the study was to reassess how the monies from fines are distributed among the entities involved.

Additionally, the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma is recommending increased permit fees and fines to help fund the enforcement of overweight trucks on county roads and discourage overweight vehicles.

As always, I would love to hear from you. During the interim I will be traveling the district, but will regularly check the calls I receive at the Capitol office at (405) 557-7407.

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