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Road test: This stimulus money may be exactly that

Road test: This stimulus money may be exactly that

The Oklahoman Editorial
Published: April 1, 2009

Too much of the government’s $787 billion stimulus package is going toward projects that won’t do a thing to aid the economy. That isn’t likely to be the case with money aimed at shoring up our highways and byways, a chunk of which Oklahoma officials began spending Monday.

The Department of Transportation awarded nearly $270 million in contracts for roads and bridges. Of that total, $230 million was stimulus money. In all, 48 projects were approved in all parts of the state.

As the stimulus package was being developed in Washington, ODOT studied its eight-year plan and wisely highlighted projects that could be addressed most quickly. These were on the list released Monday and will be included in contracts to be awarded in the coming months. Among those: nearly $70 million for work along sections of the Inner Dispersal Loop in Tulsa, which badly needs the work.

In all, $465 million in stimulus road money is headed this way. That’s enough to pay for nearly one year’s worth of projects on the Transportation Department’s eight-year plan, which is good news for Director Gary Ridley and his agency. It’s also good news for Oklahoma, as Ridley pointed out.

"It will create additional jobs,” he said. "It will save jobs. You have jobs associated with the construction industry that aren’t really apparent.”

In addition, the infusion of cash will produce smoother, safer roads and bridges for Oklahoma drivers. "People are going to see our roads go from poor and terrible to great,” Ridley said. Amen to that.

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