Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Rough Road Ahead: Highway Funding System Collapsing, Industry Officials Say

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Rough Road Ahead: Highway Funding System Collapsing, Industry Officials Say

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma's roads and bridges may be improving overall, but the system to fund transportation repairs is collapsing, industry officials said Thursday.

Since 2005, Oklahoma has rehabilitated a quarter of its state- maintained roads and highways and cut the number of structurally deficient bridges by one-half, according to the latest report by TRIP, a national transportation research group.

Of 6,800 state-maintained bridges, for example, 468 were rated structurally deficient in 2013, TRIP reported, compared with 1,168 in 2004. An Associated Press analysis of bridges in the National Bridge Inventory found last year that Oklahoma had 414 bridges across the state that were both structurally deficient and fracture- critical. The TRIP study projected that by 2021, the total will be nearly zero.

But the effects of insufficient funding could be felt as early as this summer when the balance of the highway account of the federal Highway Trust Fund drops by $1 billion, leading to reimbursement delays for roads, highways and bridges, TRIP spokeswoman Carolyn Kelly said. If the revenue stream into the fund is not addressed, TRIP projects that funding for highway and transit improvements nationwide could be cut by $625 million for the next fiscal year.

The Highway Trust Fund, which is supported by gasoline taxes, provides $35 billion annually to states as their primary funding source for road construction and repair. The fund shrank from $10.5 billion as of October, the start of its fiscal year, to $8.1 billion by June 1. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has warned that thousands of maintenance projects nationwide will likely be pushed back as the fund dries up. …

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