OKLAHOMA CITY - A new report finds that additional transportation funding provided by the Oklahoma legislature in recent years has allowed the state to accelerate bridge repair and replacement, pavement improvements and safety upgrades; however, significant deficiencies remain on Oklahoma’s surface transportation system and recent gains could be lost without continued support for transportation maintenance, improvement and expansion.
The report, “Future Mobility in Oklahoma: Meeting the State’s Needs for Safe and Efficient Mobility,” was released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation organization.
It finds that from 2006 to 2010, an additional $748 million was made available for road, highway and bridge repairs in Oklahoma as a result of state legislative action taken since 2006. An additional $1.1 billion is anticipated to be provided for roadways in the state from 2011 to 2015 as a result of state legislative decisions, a total of approximately $1.8 billion from 2006 to 2015.
These additional transportation funds have allowed the state to decrease the number of structurally deficient, state-maintained bridges by 32 percent from 2005 to 2010. By 2015, the number of structurally deficient, state-maintained bridges is projected to decrease 57 percent from 2005 levels. Pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction has been accelerated on Oklahoma’s state-maintained roads.
While 5,935 miles of roadway were in good condition in 2004, that number is projected to increase to 6,272 in 2010 and 6,556 in 2015.
Since 2004, Oklahoma has experienced a net reduction of more than five percent in the number of miles of state-maintained roads deemed to be in poor condition, from 2,995 to 2,819. By 2015, the reduction is expected to be nearly 10 percent, with 2,722 miles of state-maintained highway rated in poor condition.
Between 2006 and 2015, ODOT will have installed 436 total miles of cable-barrier, which will complete planned installations on Oklahoma’s Interstate system. It is imperative that Oklahoma’s transportation system continues to be adequately funded in the future if the state is to continue to improve the system and promote economic recovery and growth.
Despite the progress made in recent years, and the anticipated future improvements, significant deficiencies still exist on the state’s roads and bridges.
The TRIP report finds that 18 percent of Oklahoma’s major roads are rated in poor condition and an additional 17 percent are in mediocre condition.
In the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, 42 percent of major roads are rated in poor condition and an additional 23 percent are in mediocre condition. The average Oklahoma City area driver loses $662 each year as a result of extra vehicle operating costs due to accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional vehicle repairs, increased fuel consumption and increased tire wear.
Oklahoma ranks second nationally among states with the highest share of its bridges rated structurally deficient. This includes all bridges that are 20 feet or more in length and are maintained by state, local and federal agencies. Twenty-two percent of bridges in Oklahoma were structurally deficient in 2010 and an additional seven percent were functionally obsolete. In 2010, 12 percent of state-maintained bridges were structurally deficient and nine percent were functionally obsolete.
In addition to deteriorating road and bridge conditions, the state’s roads are also becoming increasingly crowded and commuting and commerce are constrained by growing traffic congestion on Oklahoma’s major urban roads. In 2008, 29 percent of the state’s urban highways were congested during peak travel times.
The TRIP report also finds that Oklahoma’s rural, non-Interstate roads have a traffic fatality rate that is nearly three times higher than that on all other roads in the state.
“We applaud the commitment made by the Oklahoma legislature to repair our faltering roads and bridges,” said Bobby Stem, Executive Director of the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors. “Obviously, with our high traffic counts, and the age of our major arteries and bridges, it is imperative we continue the work to make Oklahoma’s road infrastructure a model for the rest of the country.”
The federal surface transportation program remains a critical source of funding for road and bridge repairs and transit improvements in Oklahoma.
The current program, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), originally scheduled to expire on September 30, 2009, now expires on September 30, 2011 following a series of short-term extensions. The level of funding and the provisions of a future federal surface transportation program will have a significant impact on future highway and bridge conditions and safety as well as the level of transit service in Oklahoma.
“Unless Oklahoma can find a way to close the transportation funding shortfall, many critically needed projects