Proposed cut in federal highway funds would affect Crosstown Expressway project in Oklahoma City

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: July 12, 2011
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Ridley told commissioners that Mica has said the lower funding levels in the bill can be offset by cutting federal regulations that often slow project completions and inflate costs.

The Senate is working on its own proposal, Ridley said. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, a member of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, has asked Ridley to testify July 21 in Washington about the importance of federal highway funds to the states. The committee chairman, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has offered a two-year proposal that would maintain current spending levels.

Ridley said a one-third cut of federal funds would cripple road and bridge projects across the country. Many states, such as Oklahoma, have gone through economic slowdowns caused partially by the national recession, and lack funds to make up the loss of federal money. The Transportation Department received about $420 million in state money for the 2012 fiscal year, which started July 1.

The House proposal, if approved, would result in about $200 million being taken each year for six years from Oklahoma's eight-year $4.2 billion road- and bridge-building program.

“You can't reduce infrastructure spending by that much without affecting everything,” Ridley said.