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Federal Highway Official Gets Up Close Look At Tulsa Highway Project

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Victor Mendez [left] with Charles Hardt, director of Public Works for the city of Tulsa Victor Mendez [left] with Charles Hardt, director of Public Works for the city of Tulsa
SkyNews6 flies over the IDL. SkyNews6 flies over the IDL.
Tulsa Chamber CEO Mike Neal [left] along with Victor Mendez and Charles Hardt Tulsa Chamber CEO Mike Neal [left] along with Victor Mendez and Charles Hardt

NewsOn6.com

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez was in Tulsa Tuesday to tour the Inner Dispersal Loop construction project.

10/25/2010 Related story: Federal Official To Tour Tulsa IDL Construction Project

Mendez along with city, state and chamber officials were on hand for the tour of the $75 million reconstruction project underway in downtown Tulsa.

From the cab of a road grader, the administrator of the Federal Highway Administration looked over construction on Tulsa's downtown loop.

State and local officials welcomed the visit, because Mendez is a key decision maker on what highway funds go where.

"We're rebuilding America's economy by rebuilding America," Mendez said. "Here in Oklahoma we have committed more than $464 million in recovery act funding to 272 projects."

Mendez said more than half of those projects are underway or have been completed.

The Inner Dispersal Loop project is 80 percent complete, and another section opens this week. Most of the bridge work is done, and now the contractor is rebuilding the road in between the bridges.

For ODOT, the stimulus funds sped up what would have otherwise been a piecemeal project, but the continuing flow of money from Washington remains uncertain.

"But it's like anything, we were in the doldrums for so long, and we've had a shcnace to get a step up and make some things happen and we don't want to quit that effort, we've got to keep moving somehow," said Gary Ridley, of ODOT.

ODOT will keep moving after the IDL project is done by rebuilding the I-244 bridge over the Arkansas River.

That too is stimulus money, $49 million of the $85 million price tag. That grant was only finalized last week, after lobbying in Washington by city and state officials.

"All that collectively along with the good work ethic that we're known for in Tulsa makes this project that is a good demonstration of how when good things come together, it works very well." Tulsa Mayor Bartlett said.

The project is but just one of the 6,000 highway stimulus projects in the country. It was scheduled to start in pieces, when stimulus money made it possible to happen all at once.

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