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ODOT Hosts Country’s Top Transportation Decision Makers

ODOT Hosts Country’s Top Transportation Decision Makers


January 18, 2010

PR# 10-002

Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials welcomed the chance Monday to showcase the progress on three major construction projects to top Congressional transportation leaders. U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, committee member, had a firsthand look at how Oklahoma is putting its share of federal transportation dollars and stimulus funds to use in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas.

The House T&I Committee is responsible for overseeing transportation legislation, and to secure funds for projects across the country. Oberstar and Fallin were joined by officials from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, members of the highway funding advocacy group TRUST and several community leaders on the site tours. This visit to Oklahoma is Oberstar’s first time to see how the state is using both stimulus and regular federal funding on projects.

“Oklahoma has been especially effective at investing its allocation of highway funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, consistently ranking among the top states in our monthly analysis of Recovery Act projects,” Oberstar said. “These investments have resulted in nearly 7,000 family-wage construction jobs on the state’s highways and bridges so far. I applaud the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for this record of success.”

In March 2009, Oklahoma awarded $205 million in stimulus-funded construction contracts, making it the first state to put to work a significant portion of its transportation-related stimulus funds. The state has consistently led other states in the percentage of funds put to work. More than $225 million has been pumped into Oklahoma’s economy from these projects.

More than $415 million in contracts have been awarded, which represents about 90 percent of the state’s $465 million share. Work has been completed on 57 projects. Still, ODOT is facing a nearly $12 billion backlog in highway projects. Although progress is being made, ODOT is anxiously monitoring congressional work to secure and improve stable federal transportation funding nationwide.

“While we have taken vital initial steps by increasing state funding to meet future needs, ODOT’s ambitious eight-year plan cannot meet all of them,” Fallin said. “The large backlog of road projects are the result of decades of neglect and shifting of road funds to other needs, and it is going to take some years to reverse those effects. I will continue to insist on a comprehensive highway reauthorization bill that ensures Oklahoma receives its fair share of federal transportation dollars in a reliable fashion.”

Oberstar’s leadership was crucial in setting aside stimulus funds for transportation infrastructure, and will continue to be important as Congress considers pending jobs legislation. He is also essential in writing legislation that will guide transportation policy and funding over the next six years.

“Monies provided by congress are making much-needed improvements to Oklahoma’s aging transportation infrastructure,” Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley said. “We appreciate the work of Chairman Oberstar, Congresswoman Fallin and other members of the T&I Committee. Their help is critical in addressing the long list of needs in our state. Every transportation dollar they can send to Oklahoma is going to be money well spent.”

On his trip, Oberstar viewed firsthand the progress Oklahoma has made in improving transportation infrastructure. He visited two major stimulus-funded pavement reconstruction projects – on the I-244 Inner Dispersal Loop in downtown Tulsa and on I-40 near El Reno. He also toured the I-40 Crosstown project in Oklahoma City, which has been funded in large part through Congressional dedicated funds.

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