Low Prices at the Pump Mean Less Money for Road Repairs

Friday, November 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

With every gallon of gas purchased, the state gets 17 cents, that adds up to a billion dollars a year for our state government.

The money could go to repair highways, but most of it supports other state agencies. The department of transportation says that's led to a critical maintenance problem that's only getting worse.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is in charge of maintaining Oklahoma's roads, and the Department admits that our roads are falling apart.

They charge that chronic underfunding has left the roads in poor shape - and without an infusion of money - they'll get even worse.

The department says statewide, more than 4000 miles of highway need immediate resurfacing.
  • 3800 miles of highway need resurfacing within 1 - 5 years.
  • 4500 miles of highway are good enough to last 6 years without resurfacing.

But all that work - on nearly every state road in Oklahoma - will require billions of dollars.

The Department of Transportation is holding meetings all over the state to illustrate the problem - and demonstrate the need for more money from the legislature.

Tom Love, Transportation Chairman: "The department is not doing a good job of maintaining the roads the state owns."

The Department says its regular state funding would have actually dropped over the last decade, if not for a one time infusion of construction money in the last couple of years.

The maintenance budget has dropped from $208 million in 1990 to $185 million in 2001.

The one time addition of construction money only builds new roads - and they too will need maintenance once they're done.

Motorist: "They're getting better, but they're trying to do too many at one time it seems like, but I think for the most part they're behind and trying to catch up."

The department of transportation says it has 7.5 billion dollars in maintenance that's already behind schedule.

They want more money from the legislature - and more of the fuel tax money - spent on the roads that generate that tax.