State budget issues affect future Pushmataha County road projects

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ANTLERS, Okla. (KXII) -- On Thursday, county and state leaders came out for the road dedication for Airport Road just outside of Antlers.

The five year, $750,000 project is setup to help improve the conditions of the roadway.

"And having a airport out this way, a fire department, there's a bus route, a mail route, and it was to improve the construction here before the road got any worse," Pushmataha County Commissioner Michael Brittingham said.

But future road projects will be put on hold due to the state's budgeting issues.

The state is taking money from the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges, or CIRB, fund.

This fund is what rural counties like Pushmataha rely on.

Chris Schroder with the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma said that so far, $230 million has been taken out of the fund with an additional $80 million out during a special session in November.

This leaves county commissioners in the state facing many challenges.

"We project about 170 projects will be delayed or removed from the five year plan just from taking that 80 million out," Schroder said. "So it's become a huge challenge for these county commissioners to even get projects move forward and put on the plan just with the lack of funding."

Counties like Pushmataha are reliant on CIRB funds to help receive the grants needed for road projects.

"This is the only type of money we can get in to get state and matching funds for federal grants and federal monies and so that CIRB money that's been talked about is extremely important," District 19 State Representative Justin Humphrey said.

Pushmataha County leaders are hoping things will improve as they help better serve their county.

"And with us having that CIRB money, it gives us the ability for us to build new projects and keep in infrastructure going for the county," Brittingham said. "We have the safety of the kids riding the school buses and the public."

Future road projects in Pushmataha County could be setback for a year or two or could even be cut.