Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commission OKs $1 Billion for Improvement Projects

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commission OKs $1 Billion for Improvement Projects

Article excerpt

Be prepared for more detours and orange cones on state highways for the next three years.

Even though construction on state highway projects, including the interstates, is expected to be a little less intensive than in the recent past, detours and congestion will be the norm.

Slightly more than $1 billion is earmarked for transportation improvement projects construction through federal Fiscal Year 2003, according to the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. The lion's share of this money will be designated for highways.

The program was approved Tuesday by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission meeting in Oklahoma City.

While this seems like an ambitious program, it's down from the $1.3 billion spent on highways over the last three federal fiscal years, which run from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program includes 694 specific projects.

"This is different from the commission's five-year plan in that these projects are those for which funds are available," said David Streb, planning division engineer for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. "In our normal planning, we have a five-year program that's updated annually, so we can plan our program.

"This is a financially constrained plan, which means that money has to be available to complete the projects."

All 694 projects are on the five-year plan. Besides the commission's five-year plan and the three-year Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, the department also has a 25- year plan. Both the short-term and long-term plans are federal requirements adopted as part of the 1992 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and continued through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.

Although the three-year plan calls for construction of 694 projects, that's not carved in stone.

"This plan is amendable," Streb said. …

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