Report Shows Road Funding Pays Off

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Roads and bridges have been prioritized by conservative lawmakers as one of the core areas of appropriate government spending. Oklahomans have consistently called for road and bridge improvements. According to a report released by Washington, D.C.-based The Road Information Program, we are on track to address the many improvements that need to be made.

The TRIP report found that the increased road funding approved over the past five years has dramatically reduced the number of deficient bridges and possibly saved lives.

The report shows we have reduced the number of structurally deficient, state-maintained bridges by 32 percent. Over the last five years, lawmakers have pumped an additional $700 million into the state’s transportation system and an addition $1 billion is scheduled to be provided over the next five years.

Based on an anticipated $1.1 billion in state appropriations for road and bridge repair through 2015, the report projects Oklahoma will reduce the number of structurally deficient state bridges to 504 by 2015, a 57 percent reduction from 2005 levels.

New funding also allowed the installation of median barriers along hundreds of miles of roadways, improving road safety. The number of people killed in traffic accidents on Oklahoma roadways dropped from 737 in 2009 to 625 in 2010 – the lowest number of traffic fatalities in the state since 1992, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Speaking of bridges, I am proud to report that legislation to designate the southbound Interstate 44 Red River bridge as the President George W. Bush Bridge is on its way to Governor Mary Fallin’s desk. I’d also like to mention two bills I carried that will help counties to repair county roads and bridges. House Bill 1060, which will give county commissioners greater flexibility in repairing county roads and bridges, has been signed into law. Senate Bill 241 is headed to the governor’s desk. It will remove a requirement that a county-built bridge must achieve a load rating of 23 tons or greater to qualify for reimbursement from the state.

Senate Bill 902, a request bill from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, also passed the House and is now headed to Governor Fallin’s desk. The legislation contains agreed upon language between RV dealers and manufacturers and the Oklahoma Motor Vehicle Commission. The intent of the bill is to separate out the laws that affect the RV industry from the laws that address automobiles. The bill was previously passed in the Senate unanimously.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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