The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced yesterday that the Build America Bureau is providing the Oklahoma Capital Improvement Authority (OCIA), on behalf of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) with a $45 million low-interest loan. The loan will be used to improve rural roads in the Sooner State.
“A disproportionate share of traffic crashes occurs on rural roads due to a lack of shoulders and outdated infrastructure, often resulting in severe injuries and loss of life,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “This project will invest $45 million to improve and update rural roads, making travel safer for communities across Oklahoma."
Oklahoma has a 38% serious and fatal crash rate on rural roads with no shoulders.
Phase 2 of the Rural Two-Lane Advancement and Management Plan (RAAMP) will enhance 29 miles of rural roads by adding eight-foot shoulders, rehabilitating and resurfacing roads, and extending and widening bridges. The project areas are in Atoka, Cherokee, Grady, Lincoln, Major, Pottawatomie, and Washita counties.
This is the second loan ODOT has taken advantage of from the Bureau’s Rural Project Initiative, which offers rural borrowers loans of up to 49 percent of eligible project costs.
“The Rural Project Initiative is a great opportunity for rural communities like those in Oklahoma to improve their infrastructure,” said Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “Oklahoma’s innovative financing approach is helping to deliver these overdue improvements at a lower cost and most importantly, is saving lives through delivering safety enhancements years faster. Other communities can benefit from this approach as well.”
This expedited delivery will yield substantial advantages, including a $44 million reduction in crash costs over a 10-year period and a remarkable reduction of $29 million in project costs.
“The department has eagerly pursued Rural TIFIA loans as they provide an additional financial vehicle necessary to drive safety improvements such as the RAAMP program, while also helping limit the effects of inflation,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz. “This loan benefits projects in seven counties but the impact will be more widespread as additional needed projects will now advance in our construction plan. Having a robust, on-the-shelf design program allows us to leverage these opportunities and take advantage of extremely desirable interest rates that stretch available funding. Having the highest severity and fatality rates in the state, updating rural highways with safety devices adds up to life-saving benefits for the traveling public. This program, strongly supported by Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, helps us deliver on our promise to improve conditions in rural areas.”