TRANSPORTATION secretary meets with Tulsa officials about GARVEE projects

Tuesday, August 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma's transportation secretary met with Tulsa officials Monday to discuss whether the state can comply with transportation requests from that city under a bond program.

Transportation Secretary Herschal Crow told Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage that he saw no reason why the state couldn't comply with plans for four road projects.

``I don't see any real reason why we can't comply'' with the requests, Crow told Savage and other Tulsa-area representatives. ``I don't see that you asked for anything that is unrealistic.''

Crow added that negotiations are continuing and that he needs to speak with other players.

``I don't think it is appropriate we all stand up and shake hands and say we've got a deal,'' he said.

Tulsa representatives want a commitment from the state Transportation Department to speed up the completion of an environmental reassessment, functional plans and all other necessary studies and plans for the Interstate 44 corridor.

Savage told Crow that Tulsa's top transportation priority is a commitment from the agency that as much work as possible for widening U.S. 169 to six lanes from 21st Street to Interstate 244 would be included in the Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle program, or GARVEE.

The project would cost $19.9 million, Justin Magee, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, said.

The GARVEE plan calls for the state to sell bonds based on anticipated federal revenue. Oklahoma is planning to sell $800 million or more in GARVEE bonds.

Once the GARVEE projects are more closely scrutinized, the figure may rise to $900 million, Crow said. But the program can be continued as an ``evergreen program,'' wherein more projects are added as the bonds are retired, he said.

The original GARVEE package included $23 million to widen U.S. 169 to six lanes. The project previously had been in the five-year construction program.

Savage and others met with Crow out of frustration that Tulsa was largely left out of the GARVEE program. Crow said officials have been criticized for that and for Oklahoma City's underrepresentation in the projects.

``I am not sure we are here to atone for 20 years of sin but to go forward with an important program,'' Crow said.

Oklahoma City leaders have concluded that the key project they want funded through GARVEE was the widening of the Broadway Extension, or U.S. 77, from 36th to 63rd streets.