Bridges and shoulders the focus of ODOT 8-year construction plan

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OKLAHOMA CITY –  State and county transportation officials unveiled the 8-year construction plan for Oklahoma, and improving bridges and adding shoulders to state highways play a large role.

The infrastructure plans, approved by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission(OTC), will span Federal Fiscal Year 2020 to 2027. The OTC also approved an asset preservation plan for maintenance and the updated counties’ five-year infrastructure plans.

The 8-year plan will cost nearly $6.5 billion in federal, state, and local transportation funding, and involves nearly 1,400 projects.

The three main points of the 8-year plan include replacing structurally deficient highway bridges, improving two-lane highways to include shoulders, and improving pavement.

“We have been really focused on bridge infrastructure,” said Cabinet Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz. “That’s our number one priority and has been for a long time because it needed be.”

Of the ODOT-maintained nearly 6,800 bridges, ODOT has plans to replace or rehabilitate 657.

“Over the course of this calendar year 2019 we expect that to continue to improve dramatically with a goal of having less than 1-percent structurally deficient bridges as we move into 2020,” he said.

Gatz also stressed the importance of the plan to add wider than four-foot shoulders to 780 miles of two-lane highways that have no shoulder at all.

“What you develop over time is a lot of times we have an edge drop off there,” Gatz said. “That edge drop off, for somebody that drops a wheel off of it, it can result in a lane departure, oftentimes we see people over-correct as they’re trying to pull back onto the pavement, and that can cause accidents.”

The plan also includes improving pavement on 1,131 lanes miles from fair or poor to good.

Randy Robinson, the executive director of the statewide Circuit Engineering District’s board, said of the 13,666 county bridges, 2,497 are structurally deficient as of May. He said they can still be driven on but they’re seeing deterioration happen over time.

“The legal low limit in Oklahoma on the county system is 90,000 pounds or 45 tons and we have a lot of bridges, a school bus can weight 15 tons,” Robinson said, “and about one in six bridges out there can’t even take a school bus fully loaded.”

The OTC approved the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges adjusted five-year plan, which will address 375 county bridges, 179 of which are structurally deficient.

The plan also addresses more than 800 miles of county roads.

The CIRB is funded through a combination of state income tax and state motor fuel tax revenues, as well as the federal Highway Trust Fund. The five-year plan is expected to cost nearly $1 billion.

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