Oklahoma's transportation infrastructure is crumbling and highway
users groups are pushing for money to avoid what they warn could be a
Highways and bridges in the state are deteriorating at a time when
more transportation infrastructure is needed and a time when money
for highway maintenance is declining.
That's the message the American Automobile Association of Oklahoma
brought to a press conference Wednesday, part of a national campaign
to make citizens aware of highway and airway problems that exist in
Similar press conferences by AAA staff members were held in 25
cities, according to Chuck Mai, managing director of AAA Oklahoma.
Calling the deteriorating highway situation "insidious, it's the
rumble we hear just before a tornado hits," Mai said the United
States is facing a crisis ahead.
"I can sum up the crisis in two words -- design life," he said
during the press conference that was held under the Interstate 40
Crosstown Expressway bridge between Harvey and Robinson in downtown
Oklahoma City. "This system was designed 40 years ago, when most
roads and bridges had a 30 year design life.
"Our interstate highway system is well past its adolescence and
its middle age. Highways are the senior citizens of our
Even though cars, trucks and buses rumbling overhead often drowned
out the speakers, the site was chosen for the press conference
because of the symbolism.
The bridge deck has potholes and needs constant maintenance,
reinforcing steel of the concrete support piers is exposed, deck
joints lead and bolts are missing from the steel girder section of
While all bridges in Oklahoma are inspected at least every two
years, this particular bridge is inspected every six months, said
Neal McCaleb, director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
Oklahoma is not alone in the problem of crumbling infrastructure
and lack of maintenance money. Nationwide at least one-third of all
roads are in mediocre or poor condition, Mai said.
"The problem is much worse in Oklahoma, though," he said. "Two-
thirds of our roads are in mediocre condition. Another 5 percent are
in poor condition.
"In Oklahoma 40 percent of our bridges are obsolete or
The press conference and year-long national campaign are designed
to create a grassroots understanding of the problem and generate a
movement to get more money from Congress and the various
"Another problem we have is the trust funds, tax money that people
pay for highway and airways maintenance, are being used for deficit
reduction," Mai said. "We are asking Congress to take these trust
funds off-budget and use them for what they were intended. …