AASHTO Journal, 7 October 2011
Her plan also calls for projects that would significantly reduce congestion on the Creek and Kilpatrick turnpikes. Fallin said the historic number of upcoming infrastructure improvements will benefit safety, commerce, and travel in Oklahoma for decades to come.
“Having a safe, reliable, and modern transportation infrastructure is important for Oklahoma’s economy and important for the safety of our citizens,” Fallin said. The plan unveiled Monday “will ensure that Oklahoma’s poor rankings on national transportation issues become a thing of the past. By the end of this decade, Oklahoma will be one of the top five states in the nation for well-maintained highway bridges.”
Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said in the statement that Fallin’s plan would allow the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to clear its backlog and make dramatic improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure.
“Our agency is committed to getting projects ready for construction and to make the improvements that Oklahoma citizens deserve,” Ridley said.
In 2006, Oklahoma topped national lists for the number of deficient bridges. At that time, nearly 1,200 of ODOT’s 6,800 bridges were considered structurally deficient. Since that time, ODOT has been able to repair or replace some of the worst bridges on its system and reduce that number to 706 thanks to increased state funding by the legislature in recent years.
Under Fallin’s plan, ODOT would remove those remaining bridges from the list during the next eight years, and counties would be able to begin work on several hundred bridges.
The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved Monday the Fiscal Year 2012-19 Construction Work Plan, which includes replacement or rehabilitation of 539 structurally deficient bridges.
Fallin will ask legislators to provide funding for the remaining 167 structurally deficient bridges through the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety fund. An increase to help hundreds of county bridge projects through the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges fund will also be requested.
A three-page fact sheet on the bridge improvement program is available at bit.ly/OKBfactsheet, a column by Fallin about bridges is available at bit.ly/OKBcolumn, and maps and photos are available at bit.ly/OKBmaps.