The Oklahoma DOT's Transportation Commission on Monday gave the green light to nearly $8 billion worth of infrastructure projects through 2027.
The commission approved three plans. The largest is the $6.5 billion, Eight-Year Construction Work Plan, which centers around replacing structurally deficient highway bridges, maintaining older bridges, shoulder improvements along two-lane highways and bringing more than 3,100 lane miles to a state of good repair. The $482 million Asset Preservation Plan will run from fiscal year 2020 through 2023 and will help extend the useful life of the state's surface transportation network through improvements and other rehabilitation projects. The five-year, $1 billion County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Plan will last through 2024 and will focus on structurally deficient bridges and the repair of roadways at the county level.
With the three plans working in concert with each other, the state's transportation system will be safer, as well as more efficient and effective, said Tim Gatz, state transportation secretary and DOT executive director. Some of the state's major goals are to decrease the total miles of two-lane highways with deficient shoulders by 10% and to increase lane miles in good repair by 10%.
The money for Oklahoma's program will come from the Federal Highway Trust Fund, state income taxes and fuel tax revenues.
The Eight-Year Construction Work Plan is updated annually, and this year's rendition represents a spending increase of approximately $400,000 from 2018. The Asset Preservation and county roads and bridges plans also saw their budgets expand in 2019.
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) maintains a listing of the nation's bridges and, beginning in 2018, moved to a classification system that identifies their condition as "good," "fair" or "poor," rather than structurally deficient.
In 2018, according to the FHWA's National Bridge Inventory, Oklahoma had a total of 23,116 bridges, and 2,540 were rated as being in poor condition. When considering the state's 3,273 National Highway System (NHS) bridges, 70 of those were listed as being in poor condition. California had the highest count of NHS bridges in poor condition, and Iowa had the most in poor condition when looking at all bridges.
Iowa has been the biggest beneficiary thus far of a new bridge grant mechanism, the Competitive Highway Bridge Program (CHBP). Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the first-ever award winners under the new program, and Iowa was able to capture $33.4 million out of $225 million in total grants. The state will use the money to help repair as many as 77 bridges and will employ accelerated bridge construction (ABC) methods. This means at least some of the replacements for Iowa's deficient bridges will be built offsite. Oklahoma received $3.5 million from the program.
In Connecticut earlier this year, the state DOT used the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) to replace a span over Interstate 95 in Stamford, Connecticut. Officials estimated that the method saved them from having to carry out two years of construction in one of the most heavily traveled and congested corridors in the state. Crews were able to replace the bridge over the course of two weekends.