Oklahoma governor signs bridge repair bill

| 3/24/2006

Gov. Brad Henry has signed a bill intended to improve safety on Oklahoma's most dangerous bridges.

The new law, previously SB1288, allocates $125 million to fix the worst bridges on state highways and county roads throughout the state.

“With these emergency funds, we can attack the backlog of bridge repair projects that has plagued Oklahoma for decades,” Henry said in a written statement. “Motorists in all four corners of the state will see improvements to make their bridges and overpasses safer.”

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will get $100 million to repair or replace the most dilapidated bridges on the state highway system. Counties will get the balance to fix their worst bridges.

ODOT Director Gary Ridley said he is hopeful that the state will solicit bids for bridge work next month.

“The bridges we are targeting are load-posted, which means you can't drive a legally loaded truck across them,” Ridley told The Associated Press .

Ridley said 137 bridges have been identified as needing to be repaired or replaced. The new funding is expected to fix 30 to 35 of those bridges, he said.

Construction on some projects could start this year.

The House has approved a separate plan – HB2940 – that would double the investment for transportation projects during the next four years. The new money would come on top of an extra $111.8 million allocated for road and bridge repair during the 2005 legislative session.

“This plan doubles the investment in roads without raising taxes,” House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, said in a written statement.

The bill's next stop is the Senate.