Governor Fallin calls for sweeping bridge improvements
On Oct. 3, Governor Mary Fallin announced a new initiative that would fix structurally deficient bridges across the state by 2019.
Currently, 706 bridges in the Oklahoma state highway system have been identified as needing improvements.
Oklahoma has frequently and notoriously topped national "bad bridge" lists. Fallin's new "Bridge Improvement and Turnpike Modernization Plan" would, when completed, lower the percentage of problematic highway bridges to less than one percent, a press release stated.
Fallin's plan also calls for projects that would reduce congestion on the Creek and Kilpatrick Turnpikes, without an increase in tolls or taxes.
The new plan "will ensure that Oklahoma's poor rankings on national transportation issues become a thing of the past. By the end of this decade, Oklahoma will be one of the top five states in the nation for well-maintained highway bridges," Fallin said at a news conference Oct. 3.
Fallin called for three immediate actions. First, she said she would direct the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to include 126 additional projects targeting structurally deficient bridges for the fiscal years 2012-2019. ODOT's workload already included 413 bridges.
Second, Fallin wants beams removed from the current I-40 Crosstown Bridge replacement project in Oklahoma City for possible use in county bridge projects. Some of the beams could be reused and would help reduce costs for bridge projects statewide.
Third, the governor will direct the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to include projects in its Capital Plan -- at a cost of about $150 million -- that would add capacity and safety improvements on the Creek Turnpike and Kilpatrick Turnpike.
Fallin also said she would ask legislators to provide funding for the 167 structurally deficient bridges through the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) fund.
In 2006, Oklahoma topped national lists for its number of deficient bridges. At that time, nearly 1,200 of ODOT's 6,800 bridges were considered structurally deficient.
Since then, that number has been reduced to 706 after increased state funding helped get some bridges fixed.
Mayor to light up T-Town
Many crimes happen in the dark cover of night, according to Tulsa police officers. Now, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. wants to light up the night with a new Lights On! committee and plan.
In a citywide citizen survey, only 29 percent of residents said they felt safe walking after dark in their neighborhood, while 64 percent said they felt safe walking in the same neighborhood during the day.
Through a partnership between city of Tulsa and Public Service Company of Oklahoma, 53 new streetlights will be installed.
Most of the new lights (21 are 100-watt high-pressure sodium, 32 are 200-watt high-pressure sodium) will go up on existing poles, but some new poles will be added, too.
PSO will pay to install and maintain the new lights and city of Tulsa will pay the electric bill.
Estimated cost is expected to be approximately $2,735 per year -- around $2.69 per month for a 100-watt light and $5.02 per month for the 200-watt light.
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