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Oklahoma transportation projects will get $1.7B

Oklahoma transportation projects will get $1.7B

BY the Associated Press 

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved a $1.7 billion budget Tuesday for work on state and federal highways, county roads and transit, rail and waterway projects during the fiscal year that will begin July 1.

The commission also authorized about $41 million more in road and bridge projects funded with federal economic stimulus money, including $35 million for projects on the state highway system and $6 million for county road and bridge projects.

Tuesday’s action brings the total amount of federal stimulus money spent by the commission since the money was allocated by the government to $353 million, Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said.

Last month, the commission spent $75 million in federal economic stimulus money for a single highway project, which was a contract to improve part of Interstate 244 in Tulsa that ranks as the single largest contract in the agency’s history.

"We hope that the public will understand and be patient with us,” he said.

He said the road and bridge projects will bring dramatic improvement to the state’s transportation infrastructure that will endure for decades.

Transportation officials said that Oklahoma continues to lead the nation in terms of the percentage of federal stimulus money already spent on road and bridge projects.

Work on several stimulus projects is under way and more is scheduled to begin soon.

Ridley said that the Department of Transportation will soon turn its focus on local government projects as well as on Americans with Disabilities Act improvements and transit projects that were funded by the federal stimulus package.

The agency has received proposals for vehicles for rural transit programs, Ridley said. The proposals, which include a compressed natural gas option, are for vans and buses that would meet guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The stimulus program also sets aside funding for urban transit providers in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Lawton.

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