By State Rep. Mike Sanders
In my role as Chairman of the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, I continue to track our state’s progress in updating our road and bridge infrastructure.
In 2004, there were 1,168 structurally deficient bridges in Oklahoma – an all-time high. For decades, transportation funding had been stagnant. In 2005, Republican candidates came into office in a wave and began to prioritize infrastructure investment. State lawmakers joined Secretary ofTransportation Gary Ridley in taking politics out of the decision of howprojects were prioritized. By doing so, we allowed the professionals at ODOT to prioritize and schedule the projects that would have to most effect on safety and freedom of movement for our citizens.
Since then, state lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin have worked to accelerate the schedule of these projects. We enacted legislation and appropriated money to eliminate all structurally deficient bridges by 2020.
The investment in roads and bridges in Oklahoma since 2005 has led to a lot of improvements in my legislative district, House District 59. I want to give you an update on district projects.
The current eight-year plan includes 23 projects and approximately $67 million of infrastructure investment in Kingfisher County alone. I want to provide you with a sample of those projects below.
Two bridge and approaches projects along SH-33 are complete now and open to traffic. The first bridge is over Campbell Creek, about 12 miles east of the junction of SH-33 with US-81. The second bridge is over Uncle John’s Overflow and unnamed creeks. The total investment in these two projects was nearly $7 million.
Some other recently completed projects include:
- · a $5.6 million bridge and approaches project over Turkey Creek on SH-51, 1.6 miles west of US-81;
- · a $780,020 pavement rehabilitation project within the city limits of Kingfisher on US-81;
- · a $189,783 pavement rehabilitation project within the city limits of Okarche on US-81;
- · a $1.65 million resurfacing project on SH-3/SH-33 from 9.7 miles east of the Blaine County line to the junction with US-81;
- · and a nearly $4 million resurfacing project on US-81 beginning 9.6 miles north of SH-33.
Some upcoming projects include:
- · a $4.7 million bridge and approaches project on SH-51 over Skeleton Creek,
- · a $11 million grade/drain/bridge/surface project on SH-51 in Hennessey, from US-81 east 7.53 miles,
- · a $4.5 million bridge and approaches project on US-81 over Kingfisher Creek,
- · a $7 million bridge and approaches project on US-81 northbound and southbound bridges over the Union Pacific Railroad,
- · a $600,000 pavement rehabilitation project on SH-33 from US-81 junction to Second Street,
- · three shoulder improvement and resurfacing projects on SH-33 totaling $20 million,
- · a $1.2 million resurfacing project on US-81 from just north of SH-51 to the Garfield County line,
- · and a $930,000 bridge and approaches project over Foreman Creek on SH-33.
I believe transportation funding is a priority in the state because of its effects on our economy and public safety. Old, unsafe roads are a hazards just waiting to rear their ugly heads and they are also an eyesore that keeps business away from the state, especially in rural areas. They benefit every taxpayer they serve and are therefore a core state government service.
In the coming weeks and future columns, I will be discussing interim studies that are on-going here at the Oklahoma State Capitol as well as the 2017 budget. I also want to discuss other priorities for the 2016 session.