(Oklahoma City) A top transportation official said Friday that funding for repair and maintenance of Oklahoma’s crumbling roads and bridges has turned the corner thanks to Legislation authored by Senator Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta.
House Bill 1176, authored by Shurden and Representative Mark Liotta, will more than double the annual funding for road maintenance in the next five years.
"The people of Oklahoma, and certainly ODOT, owe a debt of gratitude to Sen. Frank Shurden for his tireless efforts in ensuring the passage of House Bill 1176. The passage of this bill will prove to be an historic turning point in Oklahoma transportation and Sen. Shurden can be proud of his involvement in it," Gary Ridley, director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, said.
Oklahoma’s roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation.
“With a record $1 billion in new revenue to appropriate in the last session, I was determined that the Legislature would make a significant investment in our transportation infrastructure,” said Shurden, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on General Government and Transportation. “We started the session with a $100 million appropriation for bridge repairs and ended the special session with most important transportation funding bill in state history.”
HB1176 builds on the Legislature’s work to increase transportation funding in 2005. Over the next decade the new state budget will invest $6 billion to fix Oklahoma’s crumbling roads and bridges.
The legislation will increase the annual investment in roads and bridges by $50 million until an additional $270 million is being spent to maintain Oklahoma’s highways.
Additionally, the measure will increase the annual investment in county roads and bridges by $85 million. Over the next three years, 15 percent of all fees, taxes and penalties collected or received pursuant to the Oklahoma Vehicle License and Registration Act will be deposited in the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Fund.
Also this year, lawmakers provided a $25 million cash infusion for county road and bridge repairs.
“We have historically changed the way we fund maintenance of our highways. The investments that we began this year will pay tremendous dividends in the future in economic development and by making our highways, bridges and our county roads safer for our school children and families,” Shurden said.