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OTC Announces Improvement of State Bridge Ranking; Acceleration of Two-Lane Highway Improvements; $42M in Contracts Awarded

Less than 1 percent of all state-maintained bridges are rated structurally deficient, according to the latest inspection data from the Federal Highway Administration.
Less than 1 percent of all state-maintained bridges are rated structurally deficient, according to the latest inspection data from the Federal Highway Administration.
The US-81/I-40 Business bridge leading into El Reno is an example of a structurally deficient bridge reconstruction project that is helping Oklahoma rise in the national rankings for good bridge conditions.
The US-81/I-40 Business bridge leading into El Reno is an example of a structurally deficient bridge reconstruction project that is helping Oklahoma rise in the national rankings for good bridge conditions.
Rail Safety Week is a nationwide effort to bring attention to the responsibility drivers and pedestrians have when encountering a railroad crossing.
Rail Safety Week is a nationwide effort to bring attention to the responsibility drivers and pedestrians have when encountering a railroad crossing.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK — Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s recent meeting include an announcement of the state’s continued bridge progress; discussion of safety issues, such as rail crossings; and a vote to authorize the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to pursue a state bond sale and secure federal funding for rural two-lane highway improvements. Commissioners awarded contracts for work on SH-33 in Payne County, I-244 and SH-51 in Tulsa County, and US-54 in Texas County.

Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz briefed the commission on Oklahoma’s progress on bridge conditions in the past year, with the state meeting its target of less than 1 percent of all state-maintained bridges rated structurally deficient. According to national bridge inspection data collected by the Federal Highway Administration in 2020, this improves Oklahoma’s Top Ten ranking from No. 9 to No. 7 in the nation for best bridge conditions. This represents a turnaround from 2004, when Oklahoma was 49th in the nation with 1,168 of its 6,800 highway bridges then rated structurally deficient.

Gatz highlighted several pressing safety topics, including the observance of Rail Safety Week in partnership with the Oklahoma Railroad Association and Operation Lifesaver. While Oklahoma Transportation continues to make safety improvements to rail crossings statewide, Gatz noted Oklahomans must heed the warning signs at rail crossings to prevent tragic collisions with trains. Oklahoma Transportation also will focus on the dangers of impaired driving, which includes educational and safety messaging about the effects of alcohol, cannabis, prescription drugs, and driving while drowsy.

Numerous improvements to rural two-lane highways with deficient shoulders will be fast-tracked due to the commission’s vote to authorize ODOT to pursue sale of state bonds to help secure federal, low-interest loans. Through the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the department can accelerate two-lane projects already listed in the Eight-Year Construction Work Plan. Using this funding strategy, Oklahoma will be one of the first states in the nation to take advantage of a rural Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan through USDOT’s Rural Projects Initiative.

Commissioners voted to award a nearly $19-million contract for reconstruction of two miles of SH-33 in Cushing, which includes upgrades to the intersection with SH-18 to improve the safe flow of commercial trucks coming in and out of “The Pipeline Crossroads of the World.” They also awarded a contract for preventative maintenance work on several city street bridges over I-244 in Tulsa and SH-51 in Broken Arrow, as well as the first phase of US-54 pavement reconstruction between Tyrone and the Kansas state line in the Panhandle.

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Commissioners voted to award 14 contracts totaling $42 million to improve highways, roads, and bridges in 22 counties. The nine-member Oklahoma Transportation Commission, appointed by the governor and legislative leadership to oversee the state’s transportation development, awards contracts monthly for road and bridge construction.

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