Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin today (Monday, October 3) announced a new initiative to target and fix all 706 of the state highway system’s currently identified structurally deficient bridges by 2019.
Her plan also calls for projects that would significantly reduce congestion on the Creek and Kilpatrick turnpikes. These improvements would be made without increasing taxes or tolls. Fallin said the historic number of upcoming infrastructure improvements will benefit safety, commerce and travel in Oklahoma for decades to come.
“Our plan also delivers much-needed improvements to two of the state’s most widely traveled highways: the Creek and Kilpatrick turnpikes. I’m looking forward to working with both ODOT and the state legislature to fully implement this plan, improve our turnpikes and to finally deliver a safer, more modern bridge system to Oklahoma.”
“Today’s announcement puts us on the fast track to finish the remaining critical backlog of on-system bridge improvements,” Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said. “Our agency is committed to getting projects ready for construction and to make the improvements that Oklahoma citizens deserve.”
· Directing the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to include 126 additional projects targeting structurally deficient bridges into its FFY 2012-2019 Construction Work Plan. With 413 bridges already in the plan, this represents the largest number of highway bridges ever scheduled for work in the department’s 8-Year Plan.
· Beams removed from the current I-40 Crosstown bridge replacement project in Oklahoma City will be offered for use in county bridge projects. Selected beams will be inspected for reuse, and could help reduce costs for around 300 county bridge projects statewide.
· The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is directed to include projects in its Capital Plan to add capacity and for safety improvements on the Creek Turnpike in Tulsa and the Kilpatrick Turnpike in Oklahoma, at a cost of about $150 million.
Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma President Jerry Dean said he was particularly excited by Fallin’s proposal to provide county assistance by reusing beams from the I-40 Crosstown Bridge as it is disassembled. Dean is the commissioner for Roger Mills County District 2.
The chief executive said her plan also requires system accountability by calling for annual reports on the plan’s progress for all three areas.
In 2006, Oklahoma topped national lists for the number of deficient bridges. At that time, nearly 1,200 of ODOT’s 6,800 bridges were considered structurally deficient. Since that time, ODOT has been able to repair or replace some of the worst bridges on its system and reduce that number to 706 thanks to increased state funding by the Legislature in recent years.
Fallin contends transportation is a key element in commerce and job creation, and expects these improvements to put Oklahoma on the map as a state known for good roads and bridges. She believes restoring the state’s transportation assets creates a more competitive business environment and builds a transportation infrastructure of the future.