Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Highway Maintenance

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Highway Maintenance

Article excerpt

Oklahoma does a pretty good job of providing a quality transportation system, but highway maintenance is becoming a major factor in economic development.

Since Fiscal Year 1990, the state has decreased its allocation of maintenance funds, almost to the point where new construction over the next few years will need to take a back seat to just keeping what's available.

The only way to change this, according to Transportation Secretary Neal McCaleb, is for the public to become aroused enough to contact members of the Oklahoma Legislature and demand something be done. Oklahomans have become so accustomed to using the highway system that it's now a victim of benign neglect, McCaleb said. "Our system is good enough that the nation's truckers, the ones who know the nation's highways, rate us among the top 10," McCaleb said. "But, it's not as good as we would like. "We must generate efforts that are successful in elevating issues related to transportation to the public's attention enough so that it engages the attention of the Legislature." McCaleb made his comments as keynote speaker for the second annual Oklahoma Transportation Summit in Tulsa. Other speakers echoed his thoughts. With the Legislature in the second half of this session, lawmakers are ready and willing to listen to constituent comments, especially on budgetary matters, said House Speaker Glen Johnson, D-Okemah. "Many bills are passed by each house (of the Legislature) with the idea that they will end up in conference committee during the second half of the session," Johnson said. "Just because a bill passes either house with a vast majority is no indication of the real support of that bill." What everyone wants to see is the final version of the bill after House and Senate members develop a compromise version in conference committee, and that is especially true of budget matters, Johnson said. "Members of the Legislature, I promise, want to hear from their constituents to help them make up their minds. …

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