While congress fights over a $1.2 trillion infrastructure project, Oklahoma Transportation Commissioners met this week and moved ahead with $91 million in highway improvement projects and approved a 5-year plan for county improvements.
The County Improvements for Roads and Bridges or CIRB plan was updated for Federal Fiscal Years 2022 through 2026. It includes $540 million for reconstruction or rehabilitation of 272 county bridges as well as improvements to 400 miles of county roads during the five years.
The CIRB program uses designated state funding administered by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation combined with federal, local and tribal funds for the highest priority county transportation projects. The plan is updated annually in partnership between county commissioners, their Circuit Engineering Districts and ODOT.
“In the past fifteen years, the CIRB program has successfully helped fund major projects that no single county could’ve done on its own, including replacement of hundreds of structurally deficient county bridges,” said Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz. “We are constantly working to strengthen our relationship with county commissioners to be sure we’re helping bring the best projects forward in the CIRB plan.”
Commissioners voted to award a nearly $32 million contract for reconstruction of the I-35 bridges over US-77 and the BNSF Railway near Thackerville and a more than $1 million contract for rehabilitation of the Rockwell Ave. bridge over I-40 in Oklahoma City. They also approved contracts for I-35 resurfacing between Tonkawa and Blackwell, US-69/75 resurfacing near the Texas state line in Bryan County and SH-66 shoulder improvements near Wellston.
The commission approved an item to add state highway numbering to several Oklahoma turnpikes, including designating the Indian Nation Turnpike as SH-375 and the H.E. Bailey Turnpike Norman Spur as SH-4.
As part of this action, the I-240 designation was added to 75 miles of highway in the Oklahoma City metro area, including all of the John Kilpatrick Turnpike and Kickapoo Turnpike along with segments of SH-152/Airport Rd., I-44 and I-40. Because of its status as a national route, the I-240 designation must be approved by a federal committee before going into effect. These highway numbering changes were made to improve route consistency for drivers using mapping and navigation apps and do not add or remove any highway or turnpike mileage.
Secretary Gatz updated the board on the next steps for the Transportation Modernization Initiative, which is working to improve shared services and create a blended organizational structure across ODOT, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.
The consultant, Guidehouse, will be retained for another year to help with implementation of its modernization recommendations and early initiatives, as well as creation of cost-sharing agreements and performance metrics. The department and OTA will share the cost of the $790,000 contract with Guidehouse.
Commissioners voted to award 23 contracts totaling $91 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 20 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Beckham, Blaine, Bryan, Caddo, Craig, Garvin, Grady, Hughes, Kay, LeFlore, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Muskogee, Nowata, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Stephens, Texas and Washington counties.