Sen. Bryce Marlatt, Chair of the State Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation, said the 2012 federal highway bill will help Oklahoma in its continued efforts to enhance the state’s transportation infrastructure. The measure was signed into law on Friday and ensures Oklahoma will receive its current funding level of approximately $612 million a year through 2014.
“I’m particularly thankful to U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, as well as Congressman James Lankford,” said Marlatt, R-Woodward. “Both were members of the transportation conference that wrote the final bill and were critical to its passage. I also want to thank other members of our Washington delegation, including my representative, Congressman Frank Lucas, for their support.”
Marlatt said one of the key reforms included in the legislation streamlines the lengthy and sometimes duplicative environmental review process for projects from an average of 15 years to about seven.
“This means projects can be completed sooner, getting more Oklahomans to work and enabling all of us to enjoy a safer, more modern transportation system,” Marlatt said.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, earlier released a statement praising both Lankford and Oklahoma Transportation Sec. Gary Ridley for their efforts. He called the measure “a responsible highway bill that provides significant conservative reforms, creates jobs and will help generate economic growth.” Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, called the final bill “a true conservative victory” that would lift the burden of red tape on the state.
In addition to a streamlined environmental review process, the measure also eliminates two-thirds of the programs approved in the 2005 federal highway bill and gives states greater flexibility in using funds that had been designated for alternative transportation.
“Transportation infrastructure impacts our state in multiple ways. As we enhance our roads and bridges, we see benefits ranging from increased construction employment to greater commerce and tourism as well as ensuring safer travel for all our citizens,” Marlatt said. “This federal legislation will better enable us to achieve our infrastructure goals that are so important to the future of Oklahoma.”