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Oklahoma Transportation Commission Gives Update on State Budget, Awards Nearly $118M in Contracts

For the fifth year in a row, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation received national recognition for its beautification efforts and partnership with Keep Oklahoma Beautiful with presentation of the State Agency Partnership Award.
For the fifth year in a row, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation received national recognition for its beautification efforts and partnership with Keep Oklahoma Beautiful with presentation of the State Agency Partnership Award.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s recent meeting include updates on funding for transportation in the Fiscal Year 2022 state budget, briefing on federal infrastructure funding discussions in U.S. Congress, and presentation of a beautification partnership award and of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) annual safety awards to the crews with the best safety records. Contracts were awarded for major projects on US-70 in McCurtain County, US-64/SH-51 in Tulsa County, I-44 in Oklahoma County, and US-69 in Wagoner County.

Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz presented an overview of the state budget for 2022, which restores state funding for highways and sets the stage for additional state and federal investments. In addition to increasing the appropriation of motor fuel tax revenue going to ODOT, the Legislature fully restored the annual allocation to the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety Fund and increased the fund’s cap beginning in 2023. The Legislature also authorized $200 million in bonds to help ODOT leverage low-interest federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act loans to accelerate major projects.

Gatz also highlighted ongoing congressional discussions about federal infrastructure funding that include possible designation of a new interstate in northeastern Oklahoma. He noted that the current highway reauthorization bill is being moved through Congress in a bipartisan manner and that U.S. Sen. James Inhofe has offered a provision to designate US-412 as an interstate between I-35 near Perry and I-49 in Springdale, Arkansas.

The department’s beautification efforts and partnership with Keep Oklahoma Beautiful received national recognition with presentation of the State Agency Partnership Award to the agency from Keep America Beautiful for the fifth consecutive year. Keep Oklahoma Beautiful Executive Director Jeanette Nance said that the partnership has been instrumental in the state having 77-county participation in the Great American Cleanup for the past 10 years.

The meeting also included presentation of ODOT’s safety awards, recognizing its nine districts and work units with the best safety ratings in 2020. The Governor’s Safety Excellence Award for the best overall record was given to District Two, which is based in Antlers and directed by District Engineer Anthony Echelle. The Progressive Excellence Award for the most improved safety record was given to District One, which is headquartered in Muskogee and led by District Engineer Chris Wallace. Additionally, the Director’s Safety Excellence award was given to the individual work units in each of ODOT’s field districts and the central office with the best safety performance.

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The commission voted to approve a more than $23-million contract for reconstruction and widening of US-70 near Valliant in McCurtain County. The project is part of an effort to expand the US-70 corridor between the Indian Nation Turnpike and Idabel in the area known for its timber industry and rapidly growing tourist traffic. The board also awarded contracts for highway lighting improvements on US-64/SH-51/Broken Arrow Expressway at Peoria Avenue in Tulsa, repair of vehicle impact damage to the N.W. 36th Street bridge over I-44 in Oklahoma City, and resurfacing of more than two miles of US-69 north of Muskogee. Commissioners voted to award 32 contracts totaling nearly $118 million to improve highways, roads, and bridges in 24 counties.

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