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8-year work plan approved by Oklahoma Transportation Commission

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved a work plan Monday that calls for spending nearly $6.5 billion on state bridge and highway projects over the next eight years.

The rolling eight-year plan — which is revised and extended annually — is based on anticipated federal, state and local funding and subject to revision as financial conditions change.

The plan released Monday calls for construction of 1,386 projects over the next eight years, including 686 highway bridge replacement and major rehabilitation projects.

It also calls for 152 miles of interstate pavement improvements, nearly $400 million in projects to address urban highway congestion and more than 720 miles of added shoulders or other improvements to two-lane highways.

For many years, Oklahoma's eight-year work plans have focused on reducing the number of structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system.

The backlog was once as high as 1,168, but that number has been reduced to 168 through several years of increased spending, said Mike Patterson, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

The state expects to have the bridge backlog eliminated within the next two years, he said.

Patterson was quick to point out that doesn't mean the state can quit spending money on bridges. Bridges continue to age and the state will need to spend about $450 million a year on bridges to keep from slipping backward, he said.

However, that does mean the state can shift to using more of its available funding for pavement improvements, Patterson said.

Oklahoma City will benefit through the continued reconstruction and reconfiguration of the I-235/ I-44 interchange he said.

Patterson said examples of other major metro area projects included in the eight-year plan include:

• Continued construction on the I-240/I-35 interchange in southeast Oklahoma City.

• Continued widening of I-40 to six lanes all the way from Choctaw Road to Shawnee, which will require replacing several bridges.

"We're going to have to do something about I-40 at Tinker Air Force Base," Patterson said. "Where their main gate is, if they go to a level yellow or level red (heightened alert status), there's going to be traffic backing up onto I-40."

Readers interested viewing all the projects included in the eight-year plan can see them by going to the Transportation Department website, www.odot.org, and clicking on the “ODOT Publications” link under the “What's New” icon.

In addition to the eight-year work plan, the Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved an asset preservation plan that calls for spending $473 million on preventive maintenance over the next four fiscal years to extend the life of highway infrastructure.

That plan includes nearly 400 projects involving 150 bridges and more than 1,220 miles of pavement. It also includes 44 projects to improve highways to Americans with Disabilities Act standards with curb ramps, traffic signal push buttons for pedestrians, crosswalks and sidewalks.

Transportation commissioners also approved a five-year work plan that focuses on county roads and bridges.

Called the County Improvements of Roads and Bridges (CIRB) Construction Work Plan, the newest plan calls for $877 million in spending to address 344 local bridges and 833 miles of county roads over the next five years.

Randy Ellis

For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two... Read more ›

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