At the June 3 OTC meeting , Gov. Kevin Stitt and Secretary of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Tim Gatz congratulated the ODOT division and crews with the best safety records from the past year.
Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission's June 3 meeting include a special presentation with Gov. Kevin Stitt congratulating Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews for workplace safety, presentation of an award for ODOT's public transit program and recognition of an Oklahoma Department of Public Safety employee by ODOT. Extensive updates were provided on the department's ongoing response to the flooding emergency and the recently-approved state budget. Contracts were awarded for major projects on I-35 in McClain County, I-40 in Sequoyah County and U.S.-60 in Washington County.
In a special presentation, Gov. Stitt and Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz helped present the department's annual safety awards to the divisions and crews with the best safety records in the past year. Stitt expressed his appreciation to ODOT crews for their commitment to the safety of the traveling public and for working around-the-clock during transportation emergencies and inclement weather.
An Excellence in FTA Program Management award from the Federal Transit Administration was presented to ODOT's Transit Programs Division and ODOT presented a commendation to Melodie Luke-Coleman with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety for her work to permit and route commercial trucks through the state.
Gatz briefed the commission on ODOT's response to the historic flooding emergency in parts of northern and eastern Oklahoma and its impact on roads, including possible damage, worsening pavement conditions and construction delays. He noted that 150 highway closures in 38 counties occurred due to flooding or storm damage since mid-April, with as many as 60 or more closed at one time.
Record rainfall resulted in catastrophic flooding along the Arkansas River basin, inundating and cutting off communities such as Miami, Muskogee, Fort Gibson, Braggs and Webbers Falls. In addition to barricading flooded highways, ODOT workers were able to assist with rapid construction of a road for emergency and utility vehicles to reach Braggs. The agency worked with many partners who made resources available, such as Union Pacific Railroad, to deliver critical supplies to the town.
Additional topics covered in Gatz's report include:
- The recently-approved state budget provides stable motor fuel tax and income tax revenue to ODOT and restores funding to the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges program.
- The department's GO-DOT pilot program will be discontinued as ODOT looks for a more cost-effective option, including possibly using a private contractor. The program debuted in the I-235 work zone in Oklahoma City in 2018 and was then tested throughout the metro. An evaluation determined that only one-fourth of GO-DOT responses were inside active work zones, which is the department's core mission, and that it would be too expensive to fully implement the program.
- The Amtrak Heartland Flyer passenger rail service between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth, Texas celebrated its 20th anniversary on June 14 and would not be possible without the Texas Department of Transportation's financial partnership.
- ODOT's longtime Chief of Media and Public Relations Terri Angier was appointed to the new post of Office of the Secretary Interagency Liaison to oversee coordination of resources between ODOT, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.
- Trenton January was named the new Division Four Engineer and will direct all highway construction and maintenance activities in nine north-central Oklahoma counties, including the Oklahoma City metro area. He succeeds Brian Taylor, who recently became ODOT's Chief Engineer.
Commissioners voted to award contracts for a $9 million ramp improvement project on I-35 at Ladd Road near Goldsby, a nearly $36 million project to rehabilitate 6.5 miles of I-40 near Vian and a nearly $16 million highway reconstruction project on U.S.-60 near Bartlesville. They also awarded contracts for resurfacing on U.S.-287 near Boise City, I-35 near Wynnewood and U.S.-69 near Checotah.
Altogether, commissioners voted to award 38 contracts totaling $138 million to improve highways, roads and bridges in 31 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Blaine, Canadian, Choctaw, Cimarron, Cleveland, Cotton, Garvin, Harmon, Haskell, Jackson, Johnston, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, McClain, McIntosh, Marshall, Nowata, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Seminole, Sequoyah, Stephens, Tillman, Wagoner and Washington counties.
The nine-member Oklahoma Transportation Commission, appointed by the governor and legislative leadership to oversee the state's transportation development, awards contracts every month for road and bridge construction. Contracts, bid information, the commission's monthly agenda and project details can be viewed at www.odot.org.