By The Oklahoman Editorial Board August 15, 2020
A year ago, state Transportation Director Tim Gatz expressed some disappointment in Oklahoma ranking No. 13 nationally for fewest structurally deficient bridges. “We had hoped that we would crack the top 10,” Gatz said. Now Oklahoma has done that, ranking No. 9 according to the Federal Highway Administration. For years, Oklahoma ranked toward the bottom of states in this category. In 2004, nearly 1,200 of the 6,800 bridges on the state system were deemed structurally deficient. Today the total is 86 bridges, each of which is already scheduled for improvements. Credit goes to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and to the Legislature. The latter, which had kept ODOT’s appropriation flat for two decades, was prodded to act after a chunk of concrete fell from a bridge on Interstate 35, killing a motorist.
In 2005 lawmakers approved, and former Gov. Brad Henry signed, a bill creating the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) fund, which steadily increased ODOT’s road and bridge repair funding. ODOT also created a revolving eight-year construction plan that focuses on pressing repair and replacement needs, with projects determined by ODOT’s engineers and staff. Gatz says during his 30-year career he has seen ODOT go "from managing our bridge infrastructure with Band-Aids and baling wire to being Top 10 in the country. That's a remarkable achievement and a testament to everybody involved." It is indeed. Kudos. View the article: Oklahoman.com