By State Rep. Brad Boles
Throughout interim, I’ve been busy traveling to various communities in District 51 to meet with constituents and talk about what issues are most important to them so I can best represent our district. A common question I get is about the Dept. of Transportation’s current and upcoming projects in our district. The ODOT staff has helped me prepare a project summary for our district, which I’m excited to share with you.
In the early 2000’s, Oklahoma consistently ranked as one of the worst states in the nation for structurally deficient bridges. About 17% of the 6,800 highway system bridges were classified as structurally deficient in 2004. In 2005, the state increased funds to ODOT by passing a more reliable funding source to address this issue. It is still being funded annually.
Since 2006, Oklahoma has rehabilitated or replaced 1,467 structurally deficient bridges. We’re now down from 1,168 structurally deficient bridges to only 132, or 1.9%. We’re on track to have less than 1% or fewer deficient bridges by end of 2019.
This ranking will place Oklahoma among the top states in the nation in bridge infrastructure conditions. To maintain this ranking, we will need to keep up with our aging infrastructure by addressing about 90 bridges annually. It is important that we continue to invest in this program to ensure that we keep up with infrastructure that is nearing the end of its life or doesn’t meet the needs of today’s traffic.
While ODOT has a strategic plan to address structurally deficient bridges, other pressing highway pavement needs remain, including two-lane highways with no paved shoulders, sharp curves, and steep hills. With the bridge system now reaching a manageable state, more resources can be allocated to improve pavement conditions at an even more aggressive pace.
ODOT has an 8-year plan based on the annual funding the Legislature appropriates to them. This 8-year project plan addresses ODOT’s assessment of highest priorities in the state by geographic region.
Below are some highlights of current and upcoming projects in HD 51, as outlined in ODOT’s current 8-year plan:
1. Stephens Co. SH-29: The actual reconstruction of a five mile section began earlier this year and is expected to last through spring 2020. This project will total $13.2M.
1. Grady Co. SH-92: A 4 mile section of this highway was improved beginning at US-62 extending north 4 miles. This $1.3M resurfacing project is nearing completion.
2. Grady Co. US-81: Cable barrier is being installed along this highway as part of multiple projections from the Stephens County line extending north to the intersection of SH-19 East. These projects will total nearly $4.3M.
3. Stephens Co. SH-29: A 4 mile section of this highway is scheduled to be reconstructed east of US-81. It abuts the SH-29 project referenced in FY2018. This project has a cost of nearly $13M.
1. Grady Co. SH-19: Right-of-way acquisition for property along this route beginning approx. 5 miles east of US-81 extending east for a little over 8 miles. Appraisal of properties in effected areas should begin sometime in the late summer of 2020. Right-of-way purchase to accommodate reconstruction project scheduled in 2023.
2. Stephens Co. SH-29: Right-of-way acquisition for property along this route beginning near the east edge of Bray extending 5.5 miles. Appraisal of properties in effected area should begin sometime in the early summer of 2020. Property needed to relocate utilities to accommodate reconstruction projected scheduled in 2025.
1. Grady Co. US-81: Realignment of this route (Chickasha Bypass) could potentially be let in the 2021 program year. Project is currently in the final engineering phase.
2. Stephens Co. SH-7: A six mile section of this highway will be resurfaced beginning approx. 8 miles east of Duncan extending east to the intersection of N2940 County Road at a cost of $3.1M.
1. Grady Co. US-62: Twin bridges to be reconstructed over the Washita River, just east of Chickasha. Project cost is approx. $13.2M.
2. McClain Co. SH-76: A 3 mile section of this highway is scheduled for reconstruction near Blanchard, costing nearly $11.5M.
3. Stephens Co. SH-29: A 5.5 mile section of this highway is scheduled for reconstruction, which will include a bridge replacement over Black Bear Creek for $20.3M.
4. Stephens Co. SH-7: A 7 mile section of this highway is scheduled for an overlay beginning at the intersection of N2940 County Road extending east 7 miles. Project cost is approx. $2M.
Our infrastructure in HD 51 and across the state has made good progress, but we still have much more to do to get to where we want to be. More information on projects can be found at the ODOT website, ok.gov/odot, under “Programs and Projects.”
In the meantime, feel free to reach out to me if you have any other issues that you would like to discuss. It’s a great honor and privilege to represent District 51 and I always look forward to receiving your input. You can contact me at (580) 641-3153 or firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless!