While the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been able to make significant improvements to state-maintained roads and bridges, additional progress may be stalled due to a lack of reliable funding, according to a new report released by TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit.
Increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, ease congestion and improve reliability, and support short- and long-term economic growth in Oklahoma, TRIP says.
According to the TRIP report, “Keeping Oklahoma Moving Forward: Providing a World Class Transportation System in the Sooner State,” despite recent improvements in road and bridge conditions, current statewide transportation needs still outpace available funding. ODOT is able to address only 15% of needed pavement improvements in the current Eight-Year Construction Work Plan, which does not reflect additional deterioration over time that will require more investment in the future to keep from falling farther behind.
TRIP says ODOT has made significant progress in recent years in improving the condition of state-maintained roads, and expects to address more than 3,200 miles of pavement in poor or fair condition form 2021-2028. However, the pavement improvement projects planned by ODOT through 2028 will only allow the agency to address approximately 15% of pavement needs during this period, the report says.
According to TRIP, driving on rough roads costs motorists additional vehicle operating costs (VOC) including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional vehicle repair costs, increased fuel consumption, and increased tire wear. TRIP estimates that additional VOC borne by Oklahoma motorists as a result of deteriorated road conditions is $987 million annually, an average of $394 per driver statewide.
ODOT has made strides in recent years in reducing the number of structurally deficient bridges on the state-maintained system; however, more work is still needed, TRIP says. Since 2004, when an all-time high of 1,168 state-maintained bridges were rated structurally deficient (of a total of approximately 6,800 bridges), ODOT has reduced the number of structurally deficient state-maintained bridges each year, dropping to just 86 structurally deficient state-maintained bridges at the end of 2019. However, an additional 1,181 state-maintained bridges are deemed at risk of becoming structurally deficient in the coming years and will require additional maintenance, improvements, and funding to keep them from becoming structurally deficient, the report says.