Transportation hubs are dynamic centers of commerce, but Neal
McCaleb, Oklahoma's secretary of transportation, cautions that
efforts to develop hubs should be tempered with careful long-term
planning to avoid congestion beyond usefulness.
"Hubs that experience congestion problems are those that
experience more commerce," McCaleb said. "The big question is:
"How do we handle that kind of volume and still make it
That issue will be addressed Nov. 17 in "Transportation 2020," a
meeting to be co-hosted in Oklahoma City by the Oklahoma Department
of Transportation, which McCaleb heads, and two other groups: the
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
and the Highway Users Federation.
The public forum will take testimony from system users -
particularly highway users - on their proposals for transportation
strategies into the year 2020.
Such events are being staged all over the country, he said, as
an effort to anticipate tranportation needs for the coming three
decades - before they become impossible to deal with.
He pointed out that tributaries in the nation already are
showing signs of problems:
- Tragedies have occured on the Los Angeles expressway system
during rush hour, as enraged motorists have opened fire on other
- Airports function in shoulder-to-shoulder conditions as
traffic converges on commercial centers. At the least, the
congestion results in increasing numbers of delays. At worst, it
presents serious safety hazards as near-miss collision reports
"Oklahoma City has not earned that nefarious notariety," McCaleb
said. "I hope we never do. That is the reason we are spending the
money planning the expansion we are - which will include toll roads,
as well as rail base transit - to avoid slamming into that kind of a
brick wall 20 years from now."
McCaleb expects considerable comment on two basic areas in the
state-wide forum in November: methods of financing and
Financing - Toll roads will probably become more popular now
that the national transportation system is functioning in the "after
the interstate" era, McCaleb said.
"The advantage is that we can sell bonds - borrow the money, if
you will, to build the road at once - and have the highway
operational in four years. It is then paid for exclusively by the
people who use it. If it is not convenient to you, you won't use
it, and therefore you don't have to foot the bill for it."
Another funding idea which will probably be discussed is a
proposal to return a greater portion of the federal gas taxes
collected locally to the state.
Right now, he said, a 25-cent tax, which goes for highway use,
is levied on gas in this state. Eight cents of that tax goes to the
federal highway trust fund for maintenance and reconstruction of the
interstate highway system, and one cent goes to the urban mass
transit system. The remainder - 16 cents - funds state highway
But of the federal funds, only about 85 percent of the money
returns to the state in the form of maintenance and reconstruction
of the interstate highways within Oklahoma's borders. …