Sims comments on top ten bridge status
State Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks, today commented on the recent announcement by Gov. Kevin Stitt that the state is now ranked ninth in the nation for the status of highway bridge conditions, according to the latest data from the Federal Highway Administration. This includes interstates, U.S. highways and state highways that are the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) responsibility.
Sims said infrastructure was a big priority for him during his time as Jenks’ Mayor and when he served on the Jenks City Council as well as on the Indian Nation Council of Governments Board of Directors. It remains a priority now that he serves as a member of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee on Transportation and as vice chair of the House County and Municipal Government Committee.
“Making sure we have safe and adequate roads and bridges throughout all parts of our state is incredibly important to our citizens who need to be able to connect to services, to their jobs and to each other,” Sims said. “Our economy remains strong only as we are able to transport goods to consumers and from our businesses and industry.”
Sims continued, “I am very proud to say that nowhere is our state’s current investment in roads and bridges more visible than in House District 68. With projects like the Gilcrease Expressway Extension, the bridge replacement at I-44 and 33rd W. Ave and many others on track to begin construction in the next two years, including the $60 million dollar I-44 and U.S.-75 interchange replacement. These are major game-changing projects for progress, renewal and long-term growth in our district. Truly, best days are ahead for House District 68.”
Sims said he’s pleased to be tasked with carrying on the legacy of Republicans who before him set transportation as a priority for the state since taking the majority in the Legislature more than a decade ago. Under their watch, ODOT has established and been able to maintain its eight-year roads and bridges plan, and the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) five-year plan, maintained separately by counties, has been adequately funded through legislative appropriations to ensure numerous projects on that list are complete as well.
“There are so many priorities in our state budget,” Sims said. “Education, health care, public safety and more. But they all truly hinge on making sure we have the proper infrastructure in place to move people and products. Great roads and bridges mean safer families, more jobs and a better economy in Oklahoma.”
Transportation had been underfunded for decades before Republicans took the majority of seats in the Legislature. In 2004, nearly 1,200 of Oklahoma’s 6,800 highway bridges were considered structurally deficient, and the state was ranked as low as 49th place in national bridge condition rankings. The number of structurally deficient bridges has been reduced to 86 today, with each of those already scheduled for repair on ODOT’s eight-year plan, according to the department.
In addition, the current $879 million CIRB plan calls for replacement or rehabilitation of 313 bridges, 151 that are structurally deficient, over the next five years.
The Legislature’s support for ODOT for FY20 totaled $905,523,856 in appropriated and dedicated state funding, a 248% increase in investment from FY06, when such funding for ODOT equaled $260,202,897.