The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday unanimously advanced legislation directing the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to coordinate resources and functions more closely.
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of Senate Bill 1775. His bill directs the two agencies to coordinate as much as possible but allows the Turnpike Authority to remain a separate agency in order to address concerns that a merger of the two agencies could jeopardize highway funding.
Treat worked with Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz on the bill to ensure the new legislation did not jeopardize federal highway funding and protected highway bondholders. The legislation says OTA would remain separate “for so long as any bonds, notes or other obligations of the Authority remain outstanding and are not fully discharged.”
“With two entities building and maintaining highways in Oklahoma, there are a lot of similar duties and responsibilities,” Treat said. “ODOT and OTA work closely on some issues today, but this bill codifies into law the Legislature’s intent that they maintain their coordination moving forward. This bill will help Oklahoma maximize transportation resources by ensuring the mission of ODOT and OTA remain aligned. That will ensure we take a unified approach to maintaining our highway infrastructure into the future.”
The bill now heads to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where the primary House author is Speaker Charles McCall.
Source: OK Senate