HIGHWAY Commission votes for moratorium on road projects - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

HIGHWAY Commission votes for moratorium on road projects

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Any new highway construction projects will have to have money available to complete them before they are approved, state Transportation Commission members decided Monday.

Commissioner David Burrage, who made the motion for the moratorium, said the commission will not award any new engineering studies or approve new projects ``that don't have a likelihood to be built with our current funding.''

Road projects already scheduled in the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's five-year plan will not be affected.

Commissioners voted to table agenda items that requested engineering studies for the interchange of Interstate 35 and State Highway 9 in McClain County, U.S. 59 in Sequoyah County and Interstate 44 in Tulsa.

The U.S. 59 study is part of the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles, or Garvee, road projects approved by commissioners in October. Almost $800 million in bonds will be sold to finance 10 highway projects. The interest is expected to be about $200 million with the debt repaid over 10 years.

The program allows states to use some federal highway money to pay off the bonds, which have yet to be sold.

Burrage, of Ardmore, said all the projects listed on Monday's agenda were worthy, but commissioners want more information about the costs the state will incur with Garvee before planning any new construction.

Two transportation commissioners resigned in October over the Garvee bond financing method, saying the debt financing package mortgaged the state's future without addressing critical transportation needs.

Burrage said Monday he still thinks Garvee is an ``excellent concept,'' but said the commission needs to see what effect it will have on the department's regular construction program.

``We have a lot of people wanting a lot of things,'' Burrage said. ``We want to make sure we don't get the ball rolling a little faster than we can keep up with.''

The commission also tabled until next month the possible selection of a new Transportation Department director.

Neal McCaleb resigned as director last month to accept a position as head of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was confirmed in the post last week.
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