Gov. Brad Henry has
signed a transportation funding plan intended to pump $170 million more each
year into Oklahoma’s road and bridgework without raising taxes.
The new law,
previously HB1078, adds $17.5 million next year for the state Transportation
Department, The Oklahoman reported. Road and bridge maintenance will
receive $15 million and $500,000 will go toward public transit.
officials have said Oklahoma has an $8.4 billion backlog of road and bridge
overwhelmingly passed the state House and Senate shortly before lawmakers
wrapped up their work for the year late last month. Henry put pen to paper on
the new funding formula earlier this month. It takes effect July 1.
The plan includes a “lockbox” provision intended to keep future legislatures from diverting the new
money from roads and bridges.
gradually increase by either $17 million or $35 million each year during the
next decade to a sustained level of $170 million annually, the newspaper
reported. Funds are generated from surplus revenue in state reserves.
Until now, the
highway agency received about $200 million annually from state fuel taxes for
road and bridgework.
“We have made an
historic investment in road and bridge maintenance in our state,” Sen. Kenneth
Corn, D-Poteau, said in a written statement.
Corn said drivers “will begin seeing the results of this bill before the end of the year. In the
coming decade, hundreds of bridges will be replaced and repaired while thousands
of miles of highways will be resurfaced.”
More than 3,000 miles
of the state’s more than 12,000 miles of highway need to be repaired or
replaced. In addition, about 1,600 of the state’s more than 6,700 bridges are
either deficient or obsolete.