GROVE – Chamber of Commerce members welcomed guest speaker Randle White, Division Engineer, from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation at their monthly meeting Friday. Also present, city manager Bruce Johnson gave an update on the city’s water treatment plant and information regarding the city pool and Will Jones, Athletic Director for Grove High School.
White spoke to the group about the departments eight year construction work plan that encompasses state, federal and interstate highway improvements.
Financially the plan examines available funds for improvements along with historical averages and how much money is spread across the state. Based on these figures the department can then determine how much is available for current projects.
The first plan, unveiled in 2003, turned out to be the departments guidebook, assisting in gaining and maintaining a focus that delivered projects in the year anticipated at a rate of almost 80%. This plan only received federal funding, lacking money from the state.
The goal of the most recent work plan is to eliminate Oklahoma’s deficient and obsolete bridge problem and return pavement surfaces to a state of good repair and improve the safety of two lane rural highways that suffer from a lack of adequate shoulders, blind intersections and poor sight distance.
Funds slated for this edition of the project ending in 2018 are approximately $4.2 billion dollars with 40% funded by the state and 60% federally. The plan is to replace 650 bridges throughout the state as well as adding shoulders to 485 miles of road.
“In 2008-2009 we ran out of money for the project, said White. We couldn’t pay the contractors and we can’t expect them to work for free. We had a huge inconsistency in funding.”
White stated that federal funds are dispersed 30 days at a time, making it difficult to plan projects without any money built up.
“We may have the same problem at the end of this year, and we are hoping for funding.” White said.
Locally, some improvements can be already be seen with the installation of cable barriers on highway 10. White noted that the use of these cable barriers are easier to maintain opposed to the traditional guardrails that have been used in the past.
The plan shows the state mapped out and counties are sorted into divisions. In division 8, there are 10 counties including Delaware, Mayes, Ottawa and Craig. The total estimated funds for this division are $941,099,755.
“The Department of Transportation would like to thank everyone for their support, said White. We believe very strongly in safety.” he added.
In other business, city manager Bruce Johnson announced that they have an infrastructure in place for the improvements of the water treatment plant.
“We have the money available sooner than we thought.” said Johnson
Johnson also gave an update about the city pool, noting that it has been a big success and they are over the budgeted revenues.
Athletic Director Will Jones displayed the colorful schedule poster for this years football season, and let attendees know that there is a competing poster being sold but does not support Grove schools.
“There are people selling these posters, telling people they are selling it for football but that money is going into their pocket, not back to the school.” Jones said.
Jones wanted to make the public and business owners aware of this issue so people are not misled.