Inhofe Lobbies for More OK $$

The compromise version of the new federal highway bill would earmark more than $2.8 billion for Oklahoma - nearly one-third more in funding than the current law provides, Sen. James Inhofe reported. The funds would include millions for relocation and reconstruction of the Crosstown Expressway in downtown Oklahoma City.

"[O]ne of my priorities as chairman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee," the Tulsa Republican said, "has been to increase the rate of return for 'donor' states such as Oklahoma," which send more money to Washington, D.C., than the federal government returns. "This highway bill increases Oklahoma's formula rate of return to 92 cents per dollar in 2008."

The bill also includes substantially more funds for Indian reservation roads and bridges, Inhofe said. This will include new funding categories and increased flexibility, "for which Oklahoma tribes are among the largest recipients," the Senator said.

The legislation was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives; if it passes there it will advance to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

The measure would "significantly boost and enhance our nation's transportation system" and would "help grow our economy," Inhofe maintained. The U.S. Transportation Department calculates that every $1 billion of federal funds invested in highway improvements creates more than 47,500 jobs. "That $1 billion also yields $500 million in new orders for the manufacturing sector and $500 million spread throughout other sectors of the economy," Inhofe said.

According to Inhofe, Oklahoma projects incorporated into the federal highway bill include:

* $220 million for improvements to Interstates 40 and 44;

* $50 million to improve bridges in the state;

* $126 million for reconstruction of the I-40 Crosstown Expressway from I-44 to I-35 in Oklahoma City;

* $35 million to widen and make improvements to the Ports-to-Plains Corridor;

* $10.8 million to widen U.S. 60 between Ponca City and Bartlesville;

* $7 million for the University of Oklahoma to conduct research in global tracking methods for intermodal containerized freight;

* $2 million to complete and extend trails along Mingo Creek in Tulsa;

* $2.2 million to update traffic signals with LED illumination technology;

* $2 million for reconstruction of S.H. 20 in Owasso;

* $1 million for the control of outdoor advertising;

* $1.6 million for improving the I-35 interchange at milepost 1, near Thackerville just north of the Red River;

* $6.4 million to widen S.H. 33 in Payne County, from the Cimarron River east to U.S.177 near Perkins;

* $2.4 million to reconstruct the I-44 193rd Street interchange;

* $1.6 million to widen U.S. 60 from approximately two miles east of the U.S. 60/75 interchange at Bartlesville east approximately five and one-half miles;

* $800,000 to widen U.S. 54 from north of Optima northeast to the Kansas state line;

* $2.4 million for transportation enhancements on S.H. 19 between Ada and Stratford;

* $800,000 for improvements to Hereford Lane and the U.S. 69 interchange;

* $1.6 million for construction of a rail crossing in Claremore at Blue Star Drive and S.H. 66;

* $3.2 million to complete reconstruction of the I-35/S.H. 9 west interchange at Norman;

* $800,000 for Texanna Road improvements around Lake Eufaula;

* $3.6 million for improvements to S.H. 412P at the 412 interchange;

* $800,000 to construct a vehicular bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad at War Bonnet Crossing in Mannford;

* $2.4 million for construction of the Duncan Bypass grade separation;

* $5 million for improvements to S.H.3 between Antlers and Broken Bow;

* $8.8 million to construct and widen six lanes on I-44 from the Arkansas River extending east approximately 3.7 miles to Yale Avenue in Tulsa;

* $800,000 for the Navajo Gateway Improvements Project on U.S. 62 in Altus;

* $800,000 to rebuild the I-44 Fort Sill Key Gate interchange at Lawton;

* $800,000 for realignment of U.S. 287 around Boise City.