New Legislation Means More Money For Oklahoma Bridges And Roads

Wednesday, June 6th 2012, 12:14 am
By: Craig Day

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation that dramatically increases funding to repair hundreds of bridges in the state.

The plan promises to repair or replace every structurally deficient bridge in Oklahoma, on both state and county roads.

There are a number of structurally deficient bridges in Tulsa County that would either be repaired or replaced, thanks to a dramatic increase in funding from the state.

Much like the U.S. Highway 75 bridges over Nickel Creek, 41st Street and Apache Avenue.

They're part of 167 structurally deficient highway bridges that, until Monday, had been unfunded.

Under the new legislation, a special fund used to fix Oklahoma bridges will get annual increases of $18 million.

The increased funding begins July 1, 2013, which is the start of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation's 2014 fiscal year.

Another part of the plan is for county roads and bridges.

"We're ecstatic to have the extra funding to work with," Washington County Commissioner Mike Dunlap said.

Dunlap is looking out over a new county bridge construction site near Ochelata.

The old bridge was narrow and dangerous.

"It had a 3-ton rating on it, but that was marginal probably," Dunlap said. "Probably built in the 1920s."

New legislation increases funding for County roads and bridges from $80 million to $105 million annually, which means more projects.

"There are a lot of bridges that need work and need attention, and this will make a significant impact on those," Dunlap said.

The additional money to repair or replace county bridges comes from motor vehicle fees.

Projects will be prioritized based on several factors, like the severity of the deterioration and the traffic count.

The goal is to repair or replace all structurally deficient bridges in Oklahoma by 2019.

"I can't see it doing anything but improving the quality of bridges and long-term it improves the quality of life in the state of Oklahoma," Dunlap said.

The measure also allows counties to reuse up to 1,800 structural beams from the old Interstate-40 Crosstown Expressway in Oklahoma City for local bridge replacement projects.