A recent family trip to Minnesota gave Sen. Cliff Branan the opportunity to get a first-hand look at the collapsed I-35 bridge in Minneapolis. Branan, who is Co-Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said Oklahoma must learn from the tragedy and make road and bridge funding a top priority in the upcoming 2008 legislative session.
“I surveyed the scene and was struck by the thought that this bridge looked like it had actually been in better condition than the I-40 cross-town bridge in Oklahoma City,” said Branan. “As I looked at the wreckage, it really illustrated why it is so important to do everything possible to avoid a repeat of this tragedy in Oklahoma.”
The Oklahoma City Republican was among the lawmakers who advocated greater transportation funding after years of neglect. Branan said progress has been made, but there is more to be done. He also said it was critical for lawmakers to look at how motor vehicle taxes are currently allocated in order to boost road and bridge funding.
“Right now, Oklahoma dedicates nearly as much from motor vehicle taxes to fish habitats as we do to the State Transportation Fund. This needs to change,” Branan said, explaining currently, the state dedicates just 0.31 percent of motor vehicle tax collections to the State Transportation Fund, but dedicates .034 percent of motor vehicle taxes to the Wildlife Conservation Fund for fish habitats and hatcheries.
“If we’re serious about fixing our roads and bridges, it’s time to dedicate more of our transportation taxes to ensure our transportation infrastructure is as safe as it can be,” Branan said.