Tulsa and Oklahoma City cited in national study for poor road conditions
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Tulsa and Oklahoma City have some of the worst pavement conditions in the nation, according to a study released Wednesday by a transportation research group.
The Road Information Program's study said 40 percent of the major metropolitan roads in Oklahoma's two largest cities are in poor condition.
The group ranked Tulsa the ninth-worst city in the nation for urban pavement conditions and Oklahoma City the 11th-worst, the Washington bureaus of the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman reported.
Tulsa Public Works Deputy Director Paul Zachary, who heads the engineering services division, said he expects the city to drop off the list quickly.
"Give us time," he said. "We have made the commitment and have taken steps to improve the streets."
The study is the latest in a series of reports that say Oklahoma has some of the worst roads and bridges in the country.
In 2002, the same group said Oklahoma led the nation in deficient bridges -- ones that were in need of immediate repair or replacement.
In 1997, a study by the Surface Transportation Policy Project and the Environmental Working Group said nearly half of Oklahoma's urban highways were in poor or mediocre condition.
That study said the state had the sixth highest "pothole index" of the 38 states surveyed.
"The bottom line is that not enough money has been invested in maintenance, so they have deteriorated," said Frank Moretti, TRIP's director of policy and research.
"Public underinvestment is causing individuals to pay the price."
Among urban areas with at least half a million people, poor pavement conditions are costing Tulsans an extra $610 a year in maintenance costs. Oklahoma City residents are paying an extra $586 per year.
Los Angeles topped the list of poorly paved cities, and California had six of the top 10.
Wednesday, the House unanimously passed a two-month extension of the current highway bill because lawmakers and the White House have yet to resolve their differences over how much to spend.
The House and Senate have passed six-year bills that would spend more than President Bush has proposed, and the White House has threatened to veto each bill.
Congressional leaders are working with the administration on a compromise. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, who sponsored the Senate measure, said last week he was still pushing for his $318 billion legislation despite Bush's veto threat.
The Senate is expected to pass an extension of the current highway bill by the end of the week. Without an extension, highway funding would be halted.
While lawmakers are trying to increase transportation spending at the federal level, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is working with less money than it has in the past.
The state Legislature has allocated ODOT $200.7 million for the next fiscal year which begins in July.
That's up from the current fiscal year's $196 million, but down from previous years. In 2003, the department had $206 million to spend and $224 million in 2002.