Oklahoma Leaders Planning For Stimulus Money

Monday, January 5th 2009, 10:39 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- If there is a stimulus package, Oklahoma leaders want to make sure our state gets its fair share of the funding.  They are busy compiling lists of local projects they believe could use some help from the federal government.

Tulsa-area leaders say this proposed stimulus is uncharted territory.  But, no matter what money becomes available, they say they are prepared to put it to good use.

The Port of Catoosa says business is good, but it could be better, and stimulus money may be the answer.

"I mean, I don't think we have any choice, let's do it.  Everybody is being asked to do this, our chances are as good as anybody else's as far as I'm concerned," said Port of Catoosa Director Bob Portiss.

Port Director Bob Portiss has submitted his stimulus proposal to local leaders.  He says there are $5 million worth of projects that need to be done on site.  Outside of the port, he would like to see the channel deepened at points to 12 feet, so barges could hold more cargo.  That would take five years and cost as much as $200 million, but Portiss says it would accomplish what the stimulus package is supposed to:  create jobs.

"With everything falling apart, you can't expect much economic development type activity, but if things are in good shape and sound, then you're ready to go," said Port of Catoosa Director Bob Portiss.

In Broken Arrow, they want to use that stimulus money for infrastructure projects, like improving intersections like 81st and Elm.

"Things that you might say have been on a wish list, but because we haven't had the funding, it's not something that we could do in the near term," said Broken Arrow City Manager Jim Twombly.

Like everyone else, Twombly is not sure if his wishes will be granted. 

There are no guarantees that Broken Arrow will get any stimulus money, but he says it pays to be ready.

"Apparently it's going to be real important to be prepared. There's a lot of speculation into how stimulus money will be distributed," said Broken Arrow City Manager Jim Twombly.

According to one group, Green Country cities have $416 million in infrastructure projects that are shovel-ready that can be bid on right way.

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor is coordinating proposed projects for the City of Tulsa.  She will discuss them with the Tulsa City Council on Tuesday before heading to Washington, D.C. next week.