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Counties Across Oklahoma Benefit from Updated Road and Bridges Improvement Plans

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Improvements to infrastructure in the state’s 77 counties are coming after the Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved the $719-million County Improvements for Roads and Bridges plan during a recent commission meeting. Updated for State Fiscal Years 2023 through 2027, this program is designed by the state Legislature to address projects like the Poteau River bridge near Shady Point in LeFlore County and other dilapidated but crucial bridges along county roads.

The plan, managed by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), is set to replace or rehabilitate 192 county bridges — of which 84 are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete — and to improve nearly 400 miles of county roads in the next five years.

“There are deficiencies on the county road system that we need to be attentive to, and the CIRB program is one of the most critical investments the state makes back into the county system. These projects represent a significant investment to the transportation infrastructure and economic impact to our state,” said Tim Gatz, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director.

The plan is comprised of 392 projects with all 77 counties represented. The department works with the state’s eight Circuit Engineering Districts that coordinate with counties to prioritize projects of the highest need in each county and make the most use of state, federal, local, and tribal funding sources. The plan allows counties to work together to pool resources to address high-priority projects too large for any one county to accomplish. By law, ODOT administers the plan and partners with the counties to oversee the state and federal funds incorporated into many projects.

Since the plan’s beginning in 2006, CIRB funding has played a key role in the replacement of 728 county bridges and more than 1,150 miles of improved county roadways.

“This fund provides an avenue for counties to improve transportation infrastructure as well as leverage nearly $208 million in federal and tribal funds over the next five years,” said Shelly Williams, ODOT Local Government Division Engineer.

Many significant projects across the state are new to the plan this year, including:

  • Ribbon Road, Ottawa County: Reconstruction and widening of the last known section of nine-foot lanes on old Route 66.
  • 101st, Wagoner County: A more than $7-million widening project jointly funded by five sources — Wagoner County, City of Broken Arrow, INCOG, CIRB, and Federal Surface Transportation Block Grant.
  • Poteau River Bridge, LeFlore County: Replacement of a closed bridge that connects the communities of Shady Point and Cameron. The closed bridge causes significant detours for school buses.
  • Greenwood Road, Pushmataha County: Resurfacing of roadway outside Antlers, allowing for major industry improvements to benefit the local economy.
  • Garvin Road, Alfalfa County: Reconstruction of five miles of roadway between SH-8 and the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge. This project is jointly funded by the Federal Lands Access Program, Alfalfa County, and CIRB funds and includes a partnership with Oklahoma’s Fish and Wildlife Management.
  • Norfolk Road, Payne County: Resurfacing of three miles of roadway and bridge improvements east of Cushing where much oilfield activity occurs.

Since inception, CIRB funds have been involved in nearly $2 billion in construction on the county system. This represents a significant investment to the infrastructure of the state and speaks to the strong partnership between the counties, CEDs, ODOT, and other entities who are involved with bringing this plan to reality each year.

During the meeting, commissioners also learned of two funds the state Legislature recently created to benefit cities and counties.

The Municipal Road Drilling Activity Revolving Fund will assist municipalities with fewer than 15,000 people in repairing roadway damage caused by increased oilfield activities. The department will administer the $5 million per year fund. State funding will pay 75 percent of each project. Municipalities will pay the remaining 25 percent.

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Just as ODOT has focused on improving highway bridge conditions across the state, the department also recognizes the importance of reducing the number of city and county structurally deficient bridges and is making a $28 million annual commitment for the next five years to further that cause, taking advantage of the federal Bridge Formula Program. As part of this initiative, ODOT will implement a scour mitigation plan and a city structurally deficient bridge program, which will target bridges on both city and county roadways.

“Today, more than 1,700 structurally deficient city and county bridges dot the state. This program will address nearly 1,000 of these bridges over the next five years,” Williams said.

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