Oklahoma projects funded in spending bill


Tuesday, December 9th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma will receive about $51.4 million from an omnibus spending bill passed in the House.

The state's share of the $820 billion measure that was approved Monday would fund projects such as highways, agricultural research, medical facilities and a proposed American Indian museum.

Language transferring ownership of the Oklahoma City bombing memorial from the federal government to the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation also was included in the bill. The memorial would also become an affiliate of the National Park Service rather than a unit.

Also included in the measure was $30 million for the Interstate 40 widening project in Oklahoma City. The money is the largest allotment since 1998 for the project, which is expected to carry a $350 million price tag.

For the proposed Native American Cultural Center and Museum at the intersection of I-40 and Interstate 35, $1 million was set aside. Congress has pledged to spend up to $33 million in federal funds for the project, contingent upon matching money from other sources.

Oklahoma's four Republicans in the House voted for the measure. Rep. Brad Carson, D-Claremore, attended a meeting with Gov. Brad Henry and didn't return to Washington for the vote, a spokesman said in a story from The Oklahoman's Washington bureau.

The Senate must pass the legislation before sending it to President Bush. That may not occur until late January.

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said the bill includes $5.5 million for a transportation system, mainly buses, to help students get to Oklahoma State University's campuses in Stillwater, Tulsa and Okmulgee.

``This system takes a holistic approach to the area's transportation problems, allowing more people to have access to the university while at the same time working to alleviate the parking problems that additional traffic could create,'' Lucas said.

There also is $600,000 in the bill for an intensive care unit at Integris Canadian Valley Regional Hospital in Bethany.

The National Weather Radar Testbed in Norman will get $3 million for a ``phased array'' radar, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said. The U.S. Navy technology is being developed for use in severe storm forecasting.

Also included in the package was a $33.8 billion transportation spending bill.

Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., whose subcommittee oversees highway funding, said Oklahoma's share would come to about $593 million.

That amount will exceed the amount Oklahoma motorists pay in federal fuel taxes, thereby keeping Oklahoma from receiving a ``donor'' state status.