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Oklahoman: Oklahoma stimulus roadwork hits the fast lane

Oklahoman: Oklahoma stimulus roadwork hits the fast lane

This article first appeared in the Oklahoman
State awards $270 million in contracts
BY JULIE BISBEE
Published: March 31, 2009

The state Transportation Department awarded nearly $270 million in contracts for road and bridge work Monday, the state’s first outlay of federal stimulus transportation funds.

The money will pay for more than 40 road and bridge projects, including several miles of pavement and bridge reconstruction on Interstate 40 in Canadian County near Yukon, pavement improvements on Interstate 235 and pavement improvements on several parts of Interstate 35 across the state. Work could start by mid-April.

"We’re very excited to see the money get to work,” said Secretary of State Susan Savage, a member of a state council that oversees how the federal economic stimulus money is spent.

About $230 million in stimulus money was spent Monday — and $40 million in state funds — in the first round of bidding for projects funded by a $787 billion federal economic stimulus plan.

State Transportation Director Gary Ridley said he expects the department to use $100 million more for highway projects in April and an additional $40 million to $50 million in May. The department will use about $340 million in federal stimulus funds to pay for highway and bridge projects across the state.

"People are going to see our roads go from poor and terrible to great,” Ridley said.

Monday’s action was the largest amount in contracts the commission has approved at one meeting, Ridley said. The figure was more than twice as large as the amount normally approved at a monthly meeting, Ridley said.

The funding means drivers will see nearly twice as many work zones starting in April as crews get to work.

The federal road dollars are expected to create jobs. Haskell Lemon Construction Co. is adding workers to complete three projects worth $12.5 million, said Bob Lemon, vice president. The company employs about 300 people and expects to add up to 15 workers, he said.

"We’re also looking at our equipment and ready to do some purchasing there,” Lemon said.

Ridley said industries working with construction companies also could see growth. Much of the raw materials needed in the projects, such as cement and gravel, will be produced and purchased locally, Ridley said.

People are going to see our

roads go from poor and terrible

to great.”

Gary Ridley
State Transportation Director

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