Oklahoma Transportation Commission discusses Work Zone Safety Awareness & COVID-19 impact on travel

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Transportation Commission announced Work Zone Safety Awareness activities in light of the high number of deaths in highway work zones and an expected increase in travel over the summer.

A Transportation Commission meeting was held by video teleconference Monday.

ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz presented a proclamation from Gov. Kevin Stitt declaring Work Zone Awareness Week be observed on May 15-22 in Oklahoma.

The proclamation states that 95 people, including four ODOT workers, were killed in highway and turnpike work zones in the past five years, according to a commission news release.

More Oklahomans are likely to be traveling and encountering construction on highways across the state during the upcoming summer, the news release states.

Stitt, in his proclamation, urges drivers to be alert and mindful of construction workers on highways. Gatz also emphasized the urgency of driving safely.

“Traffic volumes are still down, but we’ll likely begin seeing more Oklahomans traveling this summer,” Gatz said. “We’ve unfortunately seen an increase in reckless speeding in recent weeks, so we are desperately asking drivers to buckle up, slow down and pay attention, especially in work zones where there is little room for error.”

Gatz also updated commissioners on COVID-19’s impact on transportation in Oklahoma. Oklahoma highway daily traffic volume declined more than 30 percent in March, but the rate is beginning to slightly increase, the news release states.

The pandemic has also caused a sharp nationwide decrease in public transit ridership.

“ODOT is working to administer federal funding assistance provided by Congress to help Oklahoma’s transit providers cover their costs,” the news release states.

Commission members did the following during Monday’s meeting:

• Approved a $14.5 million contract to replace the SH-85A bridge over Horse Creek near Bernice, along with contracts to rehabilitate the SH-77H/Sooner Rd. bridge over I-240 and the SH-66/39th Expressway bridge over SH-74/Lake Hefner Parkway in Oklahoma City.
• Voted to award contracts for US-169 resurfacing between Oologah and Talala, US-70 resurfacing near Madill and sidewalk construction projects on SH-9 in Norman, I-240 Frontage Rd. in Oklahoma City, Main St. in Tonkawa and US-281 in Waynoka.
• Voted to award 43 contracts totaling more than $83 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 33 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Adair, Beaver, Blaine, Bryan, Caddo, Cherokee, Cleveland, Creek, Delaware, Garfield, Grady, Harmon, Haskell, Hughes, Jefferson, Kay, Lincoln, Major, Marshall, Muskogee, Noble, Oklahoma, Osage, Latimer, Pushmataha, Rogers, Seminole, Sequoyah, Tillman, Tulsa, Wagoner, Washington and Woods counties.

Click here for a list of all awarded contracts.

Click here to a view a recording of Monday’s meeting.

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