WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, today was pleased to welcome Oklahoma State Senator Bryce Marlatt, (R-Woodward) before the EPW Committee to discuss Oklahoma transportation needs. The EPW Committee is conducting a number of hearings on America’s transportation needs as it continues its work on the reauthorization of the next surface transportation bill.
At the hearing, Inhofe welcomed Marlatt by saying: “Thank you, Madam Chairman. Welcome to all you guys here. Confession is good for the soul, I say, Madam Chairman. One of our witnesses, Bryce Marlatt, used to work for me. He had Western Oklahoma, he did a great job. Now, he decided he wanted to get personally involved, so he ran for the State Senate. He’s a good friend. He has a good handle on what needs are out in rural areas. So, Madam Chairman, I think this is a significant hearing. It’s another one where you and I will get along. We’ll probably come to the same conclusions. And I am very glad to welcome Senator Marlatt here.”
In testimony before the Committee, Marlatt stated, “We have made great strides in investing in transportation infrastructure reversing the tide of declining funding for Oklahoma's roads and bridges. I know that with innovation and determination, other states are working hard to meet their states' rural and urban transportation needs. However, we will never have the jobs and the economic development we need in rural and urban America if we don't address our infrastructure. I appreciate this Committee's work toward addressing the needs of our national transportation infrastructure.”
‘In particular, I have been working to upgrade Oklahoma Highway 270 which stretches from west of Oklahoma City through northwestern Oklahoma and through the Oklahoma Panhandle,” Marlatt said. “$319 million of private investment has been poured into the Woodward and northwestern Oklahoma to develop wind energy infrastructure. NW Oklahoma is a major wind energy corridor, and State Highway 270 is the major transportation corridor to transport that infrastructure to NW Oklahoma. Transportation corridor improvements like 270 need modernization to place and keep rural Oklahoma and rural American in the national economy. Any legislation that Congress considers must accommodate the need for added capacity on our nation’s highways and bridges, much like Highway 270.”
In his written testimony, Martlatt also stressed:
“I respectfully urge this Committee to consider the vast needs of rural America and to continue making the backbone and core of our nation’s infrastructure – our existing roads and bridges – a top priority.”
“While public transit and things such as high-speed rail may make sense for densely populated areas, in rural Oklahoma we are still focused on the fundamental need to more adequately fund roads and bridges. I respectfully urge this Committee to consider the vast needs of rural America and to continue making the backbone and core of our nation’s infrastructure – our existing roads and bridges – a top priority.”
Inhofe invited Marlatt for his leadership on transportation issues in Oklahoma. Inhofe asked Marlatt to discuss legislation he authored this session to find ways to implement innovative funding alternatives for Oklahoma’s state roads and bridges. Senate Bill 1941, by Marlatt and Oklahoma State Representative Jason Nelson of the House, would create the Innovative Funding for Oklahoma Roads Task Force. The task force would study and evaluate innovations, technologies and new methods being employed nationally and by other states to more adequately and equitably fund road and bridge infrastructure, including both new construction and maintenance.