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Federal Bill Brings Funding Certainty and COVID-19 Relief, Transportation Milestones Highlighted at Oklahoma DOT Meeting

ODOT installed updated highway welcome signs with the new state logo to greet drivers entering Oklahoma.
ODOT installed updated highway welcome signs with the new state logo to greet drivers entering Oklahoma.
Members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission heard details about the recent passage of the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act by U.S. Congress.
Members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission heard details about the recent passage of the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act by U.S. Congress.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s recent meeting include updates on recently-approved federal legislation providing transportation funding and establishing a commission to celebrate the Route 66 Centennial, as well as recognition of state transportation highlights and milestones in 2020. Engineering contracts were approved for the design of future highway projects, including SH-9 in Cleveland County, US-69 in Bryan County, and Duncan Bypass in Stephens County.

Secretary of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) Executive Director Tim Gatz thanked commissioners for their guidance and involvement during the past year, which was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption of life and work. He also noted that ODOT and its industry partners adapted quickly and performed admirably despite the challenges.

“I want to thank the department’s staff and our contractor and consultant partners for their hard work in the face of the terrible COVID-19 pandemic in 2020,” Gatz said. “It’s nothing short of amazing what ODOT was able to accomplish for the state in 2020 under extremely challenging circumstances.”  

Gatz briefed commissioners on details of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was approved by U.S. Congress and the president. The bill includes reauthorization of federal funding through the rest of Federal Fiscal Year 2021, as well as providing additional COVID-19 relief for state DOTs. The bill also includes the America’s Water Infrastructure Act, a major reauthorization and streamlining of the federal water resources program.

Commissioners heard that the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act was also signed by the president. The law will guide the federal government’s preparations for the 100th anniversary of the “Mother Road” in 2026 and includes participation from Oklahoma with events to come.

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Gatz presented the agency’s annual Year in Review, which highlighted accomplishments and milestones in state transportation from 2020. This included Gov. Kevin Stitt and ODOT’s announcement that Oklahoma is ranked a Top Ten State for highway bridge conditions, improving from No. 49 in 2004 to No. 9. Other accomplishments include the state’s first public transit plan, completion of major interstate projects in Elk City, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa and milestones from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

The commission voted to approve 17 engineering contracts for design of upcoming highway construction projects in ODOT’s Eight-year Construction Work Plan and Asset Preservation Plan. These include the design of SH-9 widening east of 156th Street in Norman, US-69 bridge reconstruction at W. Arkansas Street, Kiamichi Railroad and Main Street in Durant, and interchange construction on the Duncan Bypass at Elk Avenue.

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