Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

McCaleb Fears Money for Broadway Extension Project May Run Short

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

McCaleb Fears Money for Broadway Extension Project May Run Short

Article excerpt

Get used to construction on the Broadway Extension. It could become a permanent part of your driving routine.

That's because there may not be enough money in the $1 billion highway capital improvements package to finish the $108 million project, according to Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Neal McCaleb.

Although the project was sanctioned in the 1997 package -- the largest of the 110 road projects approved -- money could run short, he told a Tuesday meeting of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

"The fact is, there's not enough money," he said. "We have the promise (to build the highway) and we have the performance (of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation); now we must have some way of keeping the promise and coming up with the money."

If the Legislature, which starts its session in February, doesn't approve money for the second phase, the completion of the Broadway Extension must be paid for with state and federal money from the department's five-year plan.

"Right now, we're pushing other projects out, so it just doesn't seem appropriate to add new projects," McCaleb said.

The six Broadway Extension projects under way are anticipated to cost $58 million -- about $49 million short of what is needed, said David Cline, the department's chief engineer for Division 4.

During the meeting, called by Transportation Commissioner Tom Love, McCaleb repeated that the transportation department's share of the state budget has shrank from 7.2 percent in 1990 to 6.5 percent in 2000, while the budget itself has grown from $2.9 billion to $4.9 billion during the same period.

The department's funding for this fiscal year, he said, includes the $1 billion for the 110 capital improvement projects being paid for through a combination of rainy day funds, general obligation bonds and general fund appropriations.

When the two-phase plan was approved, the Legislature said the first phase would include $700 million. If work in the first three years was satisfactory and the state economy continued growing, it had suggested another $300 million would be added for the second phase.

Even though there is no guarantee that phase two will be approved, there's also a chance that more money could be appropriated, either through the general fund, more rainy day funds or increased bonds. …

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