Contractors say road construction work plan may be in jeopardy

OKLAHOMA CITY – In 2016, the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors (AOGC) and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation are preparing to continue the Eight-Year Construction Work Plan designed to improve state and U.S. highways, interstates, roads, and bridges amid state funding uncertainty.

Amidst state government budget challenges, the top executive at AOGC says the long-term stability of the methodical plan to improve and maintain transportation infrastructure could be at risk.

The goal for these organizations and contractors “is to bring elected officials and state leaders together to keep repairing and strengthening Oklahoma’s infrastructure.”

“The improvement of Oklahoma roads and bridges is a top priority for our organization, and we are excited that these repairs will be made,” said AOGC Executive Director Bobby Stem. “However, with a state budget shortfall looming, the planned $6.5 billion dollar budget may be in jeopardy.  These repairs seem to be very costly, but in all honesty, the eight-year plan and ODOT funding is a mere 4.7% of the state‘s total budget. To cut funding now would amount to highway robbery for Oklahoma’s future.”

Beginning in 2016, the plan has been to initiate projects in all 77 Oklahoma counties. The Eight-Year Construction Plan includes designed improvements to fund 1,812 projects statewide; many local projects are included.

In Oklahoma County, extensive work is planned to improve roads along I-40 Crosstown, I-240 over Trib. of Crooked Creek, I-35/I-240 Interchange, SH-66 from 14.13 mi. E. of I-35 E. 2.37 mi., Lincoln Boulevard over Deep Fork Creek, I-235/I-44 Interchange, I-40 WB & EB over Crutcho Creek & SE 15th St., and I-40/Choctaw Road Interchange.

Total costs are projected to be approximately $131,818,294 in 2016, with additional projects taking place in following years. Stem and his members maintain that Oklahoma County is certain to see multiple benefits as a result of these improvements. 

A press release from AOGC contends, “These improvements are needed to ensure future job growth, economic development and improve road safety throughout the community.”

Stem reflected, “These construction efforts will advance the prosperity of Oklahoma and make our state a better place for both residents and visitors on the roads.”

ODOT officials have shared AOGC’s determination to develop infrastructure and, Stem’s group says, “look forward to the improvements planned for deficient roads and bridges across the state.” In past budget cycles, Governor Mary Fallin has pressed to maintain the funding stream as part of a long-term bipartisan accord (crafted during her predecessor’s term) to make the improvements.

However, as AOGC points out, funding for completion of current and future projects is in the hands of Oklahoma state legislators.

About AOGC: The Association of Oklahoma General Contractors is a statewide organization promoting transportation through the state members including service providers.