Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

ODOT Official Expects 'Domino Effect' from Delay in Funding

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

ODOT Official Expects 'Domino Effect' from Delay in Funding

Article excerpt

Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Gary Ridley doesn't expect Congress to do much of anything with the federal transportation bill until spring, which will have a far-reaching negative effect on Oklahoma's roads.

It's a domino effect, said Ridley. You learn in school, for every action there's a reaction. In our business, for every action there's 10 reactions, so it really compounds the problem.

Lawmakers have left Washington to concentrate on their campaigns, leaving undone a transportation bill containing funds ODOT needs to move ahead with new construction projects, including the Interstate 40 Crosstown relocation project in Oklahoma City.

Members of Congress had appeared to be nearing a compromise on the amount of the transportation bill, which is expected to total about $299 billion. But instead, the lawmakers extended the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century for another eight months and left town.

We're in kind of an unusual situation here in Oklahoma, because we use no state dollars for new construction, right-of-way acquisition, engineering, said Ridley. We rely totally on the federal funds. Consequently, we're at the whim of the federal government as far as how much money we're going to have and when we're able to spend it.

ODOT had planned to let out for bid $115 million worth of projects for the months of October and November. At Monday's Transportation Commission meeting, however, that total had been whittled down to around $80 million. After November, no one really knows how much ODOT will have to spend for construction projects.

So far, the federal government has allocated about $130 million for the I-40 Crosstown relocation project, which will likely be exhausted shortly after the first of the year, when the first construction contract for the project is scheduled to be let out for bid.

Ridley said the department has not yet decided which projects may have to be put on the back burner. …

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