Blogs - Blogs
Tulsa World: Road Projects Hit Pothole
October 2, 2009

Posted by: David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov

In Case You Missed it . . .  

Tulsa World

Road projects Hit Pothole

By: Jim Myers

October 02, 2009

Link to Article

WASHINGTON - A double-whammy from the federal government will force Oklahoma next month to slash a $53.5 million contract letting on road projects to $6.2 million, according to figures provided Thursday by state Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley.

"We are not doing too good right now,'' Ridley said in something of an understatement.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who unsuccessfully worked into Wednesday night to prevent or at least buffer the double dose of bad news for road projects, said the impact will be devastating for construction workers in Oklahoma.

"Now we are going to pay the price,'' said Inhofe.

Projects not expected to be on the state's November list include three in the Tulsa area:

$1.8 million for a system of traffic sensors to provide real-time traffic information on message boards for the Interstate 44 widening project between Riverside Drive to Yale Avenue.

$9.3 million for work on the Gilcrease Extension project for the city of Tulsa to build a two-lane road from the L.L. Tisdale Parkway west to 41st West Avenue.

$12.9 million for additional work on the same Gilcrease Extension project.

Statewide, more than 15 other projects are expected to be dropped from the November list.

Ridley provided that information after Congress allowed an extension of current transportation programs for only 30 days to kick in, along with cancellation of spending authority provided to states in a massive transportation bill several years ago.

Called a rescission, that cancellation is expected to have a $40 million immediate impact on Oklahoma's road program, and that impact eventually could climb to $135 million.

Moreover, the state's flow of federal funds was dealt a blow by the 30-day extension of current transportation law that replaced a three-month extension passed earlier by the House.

Ridley explained the state must meet its debt obligation on bonds.

"That has to come off the top,'' he said. "As you can see, that doesn't leave us any federal funds for the November letting.''

Ridley said the November list essentially will be limited to state-funded projects in Canadian, Greer and Payne counties.

A handful of small projects funded by stimulus dollars also could remain.

Ridley repeated an earlier concern that the state was urged to use stimulus dollars to speed up certain projects to create jobs, only to have projects delayed later.

Even if Congress comes up with a fix at the end of October, when the 30-day extension of current transportation law runs out, Ridley said that would not be enough time to get the delayed projects back on the November list.

That could push those projects into January.

Such delays are not part of the record that Ridley and his agency have built, especially in responding to the Obama administration's rush to get stimulus projects approved.

For the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, he said, it is important to get the money approved quickly for those who pay taxes for roads.

"That's our mission,'' Ridley said.

After various proposals involving bailout money and stimulus funds failed late Wednesday, Inhofe, a key player on transportation issues as the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said there is enough blame to go around.

He said the nation's highway program and the American people suffered a major loss because of a calculated decision by some that politics should trump common sense.

Local plans put on hold

Tulsa-area road projects not expected to be on the state's November list:

  • $1.8 million for a system of traffic sensors to provide real-time traffic information on message boards for the Interstate 44 widening project between Riverside Drive to Yale Avenue.
  • $9.3 million for work on the Gilcrease extension project for the city of Tulsa to build a two-lane road from the L.L. Tisdale Parkway west to 1st West Avenue.
  • $12.9 million for additional work on the same Gilcrease extension project.

###

 





Majority Office
410 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
phone: 202-224-8832
Minority Office
456 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
phone: 202-224-6176