OK House Press Release
OKLAHOMA CITY – House Majority Leader Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, today commented on the announcement by Gov. Kevin Stitt that the state is now ranked ninth in the nation for the status of highway bridge conditions, according to the latest data from the Federal Highway Administration. This includes interstates, U.S. highways and state highways that are the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) responsibility.
Sanders served more than four years as the chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, beginning in 2012, overseeing the budget for ODOT during that time. As a member of House leadership, he’s continued to work to protect funding for transportation in the state budget each year.
“One of the reasons I sought to serve in public office was to protect our state resources and to improve services for our citizens,” Sanders said. “One of our most valuable assets is our infrastructure. Well-maintained roads and bridges not only provide safe access for our residents but the backbone of our commerce system, which brings jobs to our great state and builds our economy so that we enjoy the best quality of life here in the heartland of America.”
Sanders said he was pleased to be among the class of Republicans that took majority in the Legislature more than a decade ago, that quickly moved to make transportation a priority in the state budget.
“We’ve worked hard to get more funding to ODOT so they could begin to strategically plan for long-term roads and bridges projects,” Sanders said. “At the same time, we carved out funding for the County Infrastructure for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) plan to maintain our rural roadways and to repair or replace hundreds of structurally deficient or obsolete bridges throughout the state.”
Sanders said transportation had been underfunded for decades prior to Republicans taking the majority of seats in the state Legislature since 2005. In 2004, nearly 1,200 of Oklahoma’s 6,800 highway bridges were considered structurally deficient, and the state was ranked as low as 49th place in national bridge condition rankings. The number of structurally deficient bridges has been reduced to 86 today, with each of those already scheduled for repair on ODOT’s eight-year plan, according to the department.
In addition, the current $879 million CIRB plan calls for replacement or rehabilitation of 313 bridges, 151 that are structurally deficient, over the next five years. These structures are maintained separately by counties.
The Legislature’s support for ODOT for FY20 totaled $905,523,856 in appropriated and dedicated state funding, a 248% increase in investment from FY06, when such funding for ODOT equaled $260,202,897.
“At times we had to fight tooth and nail to protect this funding for transportation against many other worthy causes, knowing that if we kept transportation as a priority it would bring the booming economy we desired to help us offer all other state services to our citizens,” Sanders said. “Learning today that we have achieved top ten status for the condition of our ODOT-maintained highway bridges feels like a personal victory for me and my fellow Republicans. This is a high note of my legislative career.”
Sanders represents District 59 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Dewey and parts of Blaine, Canadian, Kingfisher and Woodward counties.