Oklahoma Highway Maintenance to be Hurt by Budget Cuts

Among the Oklahoma state agencies dealing with 3 percent budget cuts is the Oklahoma Transportation Department where leaders admit the $13 million in cuts will impact highway construction.

“Due to these state budget challenges, we are looking at reductions that will likely have a negative impact on highway construction spending,” said Mike Patterson, Executive Director of DOT. “This means some projects in the Eight-year Plan will be postponed, though we don’t know which ones at this point. At the same time, we will have to increase spending on maintenance and asset preservation just to keep the highways in the condition they are now.”

The DOT has a budget of $440,065,256 and under the 3 percent guideline has to cut $13,201,957. Patterson explained it also means a reduction in Oklahoma’s allocation to the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety Fund. He said the cut to the ROADS fund will not impact ongoing construction projects. But Patterson is implementing a plan to reduce out-of-state travel, delay replacement of vehicles, equipment and outdated facilities and leave vacant positions unfilled. He estimated savings would amount to $3.9 million and it will be reallocated to highway maintenance.

It will be needed because of recent winter weather that has taken a toll on the state highways. ODOT spent $1.6 million responding to the December storms. The cycle of repeated freezing and thawing during the remaining winter months will cause more stress to highway pavements and Patterson said it will only result in more surface damage and potholes.


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