A $6 billion, eight-year highway and bridge construction plan was adopted Monday by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission.
The plan includes almost 2,000 individual projects to be completed by 2021, including replacing or rehabbing 924 bridges and improving 657 miles of two-lane highways and 552 miles of high-volume highways and interstates.
The plan is funded by a combination of federal and state transportation dollars. Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials said the construction plan and a separate initiative to preserve existing roads and bridges will ensure that all remaining structurally deficient bridges in the state will be repaired or replaced by the end of the decade.
“We're focused on our bridge problems,” Transportation Department Executive Director Mike Patterson said.
The commission also awarded contracts to repair or replace 52 bridges, including 20 that are structurally deficient. Seventeen are part of the county road system, Patterson said.
Oklahoma's bridges were ranked worst in the nation in 2005 by the Road Information Program, a nonprofit transportation research group based in Washington, D.C. It also said then Oklahoma led the country in structurally deficient bridges.
Since then, state lawmakers have made funding roads and bridges a priority, allowing the Transportation Department to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges from a high of 1,168 in 2004 to 556 last year.
Legislation was approved in 2006 to increase funding from about $200 million to almost $569 million with incremental increases in appropriations, according to the agency.
The construction plan focuses on bridge replacement and repair as well as another transportation issue that Patterson said is his agency's next big challenge — pavement problems.