The Oklahoma House voted 80-17 to approve a bill that is
intended to help bring the state’s roads and bridges up to speed. It has been
sent to the Senate for further consideration.
Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, the measure would
dedicate money collected for vehicle tags and taxes to be used for construction
and maintenance of the state’s roads and bridges.
The state’s Department of Transportation says more than 3,000 miles of Oklahoma’s more than 12,000 miles of highway need to be repaired or replaced. In addition,
about 1,160 of the state’s more than 6,700 bridges are either deficient or
The bill would reroute $221 million that is funneled into
the state’s general fund to help fix roads and bridges throughout the state.
“Many Oklahomans are under the impression that the money
collected for their vehicle tag is already going toward fixing roads, but only
0.31 percent of the money collected is currently put toward road construction
and repair,” Hickman said in a written statement. “Money generated from car
tags should go to fix the very roads those vehicles will be traveling – and
this bill does just that.”
Hickman’s bill also would send the portion of the fuel tax
collections on gasoline and diesel now sent to the general fund to roads. That
would amount to an additional $7 million for ODOT.
The bill – HB1863 – is in the Senate Finance Committee.
Hickman’s effort isn’t the only legislation in Oklahoma this year that addresses money for bridges in the state.
Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill March 14 to help fix the
worst bridges on state highways and county roads throughout the state.
The new law, previously SB1288, allocates $125 million for
“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.”
ODOT will get $100 million to repair or replace the most
dilapidated bridges on the state highway system. Counties will get $25 million
to fix their worst bridges.
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.