Lawmakers OK $300 million in bonds to pay for roads, bridges

| 6/10/2008

Oklahoma roads and bridges are set to get a boost in funding, under a measure signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry.

The new law, previously HB2272, authorizes a $300 million bond issue to pay for repairs to roads and bridges throughout the state. County roads and bridges are tabbed to receive $25 million.

“This legislation addresses a real and pressing concern,” Henry said in a written statement. “Too many of Oklahoma’s roads and bridges are in need of repair, creating a barrier to economic development and, more critically, a threat to public safety.”

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation now has the go-ahead to issue the bonds to stay on schedule with the agency’s eight-year road and bridge maintenance plan. The money will be generated in two bond issues during the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years.

The debt service on the road bonds will be paid for with a portion of the annual growth in motor vehicle fees. The average annual growth in motor vehicle fees is more than 3 percent.

The agreement also removes a trigger in Oklahoma law that requires state revenue to grow at least 3 percent before ODOT receives an annual increase of up to $50 million. The stipulation led to only $17.5 million being allotted for transportation this fiscal year.

Officials with ODOT said another failure to reach the growth figure would have a snowball effect on the agency’s backlog.

The road and bridge package is part of a $475 million bond deal approved by the state Legislature last month.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Oklahoma in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor