Local Road Getting State Improvements

8-24-05 - Senator Jay Paul Gumm, Rep. John W. Carey and Bryan County Commissioner Dwayne Simpson traveled to Cartwright in southern Bryan County to announce upcoming improvements to a heavily traveled county road.

Willafa Woods Road is an important link for businesses, homeowners and tourists visiting Lake Texoma, the officials said. The heavy travel on the road causes it to deteriorate more quickly than other county roads.

Gumm and Carey said they have been working to find resources to make critical improvements to the county road, which runs north from the community of Cartwright. Beginning just north of the Denison Dam and State Highway 91, a number of businesses are located on the road, as well as access to many homes and Lake Texoma recreational.

A Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) grant, funded by the Oklahoma
Legislature and administered by the Southern Oklahoma Development
Association (SODA), will account for half the improvements to the road. A special project grant – also funded by the Legislature – combined with county resources will bring the total road improvement to $40,000. According to county records, this is the largest one-time funding for the road in at least a decade.

“Finding state resources for county roads like Willafa Woods is virtually
impossible,” said Wes Bowman, executive director of SODA, which administers REAP and special project grants.

“Senator Gumm and Representative Carey worked tirelessly to find resources for Willafa Woods Road. Commissioner Simpson’s commitment to improving the road, combined with the state dollars, shows everyone just how important this project is to these officials.”

Gumm, D-Durant and an assistant majority leader in the Senate, said the
improvements are good news for homeowners in the area, local businesses and tourists who come to Lake Texoma.

“Working together, we have been able to gather enough resources to make a difference on this road in the immediate future,” he said. “While it is difficult to find money for grants like this, Representative Carey and I are always working to bring more dollars to our district.”

Carey, also a Democrat from Durant, said urban lawmakers are fighting to end grants like those that will fund much of the improvements at Willafa Woods.

“It was a huge battle to get these dollars,” said Carey. “The residents,
businesses and tourists who use this road deserve these improvements, and that is why Senator Gumm and I never gave up in the search for resources.”

Commissioner Simpson said partnerships between the state and the county are critical to finding solutions to funding problems.

“In these days of very tight budgets, working together is the only way we can make road improvements like these at Willafa Woods,” said Simpson. “I am grateful to both Representative Carey and Senator Gumm for their help and look forward to getting the project underway.”

The improvements were put on the fast track, meaning the resources will be in hand and work will begin by November. When the project is completed will depend on weather, but the entire $40,000 dedicated to the road will be available no later than Oct. 31.