Oklahoma Lawmaker Pushing Long-Term Bill To Fix Highways, Roads

Friday, July 31st 2015, 7:08 pm
By: News On 6

It seems everywhere you go these days a road or bridge is being repaired – and we know they desperately need it.

But Congress just went on summer break, and instead of passing a six-year solution, they passed a three-month extension to keep federal money flowing to road construction; but one Oklahoma lawmaker is doing what he can to get a long-term road bill.

Highway projects rely on federal dollars to get moving. That’s why Senator Jim Inhofe wants Congress to stop temporary road fixes and pass the DRIVE Act – a bipartisan bill to fix crumbling bridges and roads.

7/27/2015 Related Story: Senator Inhofe Pushes For DRIVE Act

Tyla May just drove 16 hours from South Carolina to Tulsa. She covered over 900 miles of roads and bridges that she said were not in the best shape.

Around the same time she was on the road, Congress decided to only temporarily provide money for the country's federal highway projects.

"It's sad because, to me, it's going to cause more accidents because the potholes and the patches do make your vehicle jump around," May said.

The congressional extension keeps money flowing into the program for only three months.

Bobby Stem with the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors said short-term funding costs taxpayers more money because the uncertainty in the marketplace increases prices.

"If we have a long-term plan then we can make long-term plans as companies," he said.

Inhofe and his colleagues sent the House of Representatives the DRIVE Act this week to stop short-term funding bills. That bill funds the federal highway program for six years and tackles fixing the country's infrastructure.

“When they go home, they're faced with all these people, let me tell you the public is behind us. I don't care which of the 50 states you go to, they want a highway bill. They want their bridges and highways fixed," Inhofe said.

He said more than half of the country's roads are in poor to mediocre condition, and one-in-four bridges needs repair.

Drivers hope something gets done fast.

"I'd like to see both sides of the aisle work a little more constructively, therein lies the frustration," said driver Bob Day.

May said, "They're very important, I have kids that now drive and one that's getting ready to drive, it's important and I'm on the road a lot."

House lawmakers have already gone on summer break and won't return until September.

Inhofe hopes the bill will become law sooner rather than later, but it might get bogged down when it comes time for the votes.