The Road Ahead

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

In my previous column, I discussed the progress being made on the repair and maintenance of Oklahoma’s road and bridge infrastructure. Although we have accomplished much on this front, there is more that will be done, and I am already working with other state legislators to prepare for 2014.

This year, I authored a bill to redirect 2.5 percent of the motor vehicle collection tax for two years to pay for county roads that are critical connectors between communities, highways and businesses. We have seen annual disasters such as floods, snow and ice that have destroyed these roads and bridges to the point that they are unsafe for travel. It is reasonable and necessary for counties to keep up with regular maintenance needs, but they simply do not have the resources to contend with such an onslaught of Mother Nature. These roads are not eligible for federal disaster aid funding, so it falls to the state to step in and address storm-damaged roads.

My bill did not complete its course through the legislative process. However, because so much of the work was completed this year, I think there is a good chance that it will be signed into law in 2014. The bill has the support of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the Oklahoma State Chamber and numerous county commissioners from around the state.

Cities and towns, especially those with small budgets, face the same problems as counties after the onslaught of a natural disaster. My fellow state legislators have requested a study of municipal road and bridge funding in Oklahoma. The study was approved and we will undertake it this fall.

We are also working on completing the steps needed for the creation of an infrastructure bank in Oklahoma, which will give us an additional resource for road and bridge projects. Legislation in 2012 authorized the creation of an infrastructure bank, but more work is needed to complete the project.

School has started and I want to encourage everyone to drive safely, especially in school zones. As always, I would love to hear from you. During the upcoming legislative 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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