Oklahoma governor proposes $520 million for roads

| 2/3/2006

Gov. Brad Henry is working on an effort to bring Oklahoma’s roads and bridges up to speed.

Over the next decade, Henry wants to invest $520 million into road and bridge repairs across the state.

His plan includes a “lockbox” provision intended to keep future legislatures from shifting highway funds to other areas. The state relies solely on fuel taxes to pay for road and bridge work.

The governor’s plan calls for an immediate infusion of $100 million this year for bridge repair. The money would be split between the state and cities and counties.

The $100 million would come via a surplus in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

An additional $420 million would be invested during the next 10 years. The money would come from the state’s leftover debt service payment.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation says 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.

The lockbox provision would require the Legislature to send it before voters to create an amendment to the state constitution. If approved, only voters could make future changes, not lawmakers.

Henry’s road program is expected to draw consideration during the legislative session that begins Monday, Feb. 6. The governor said he expects bipartisan support for his plan.