Stimulus Project Scrapped; Questions Remain About Why Its Approval - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Stimulus Project Scrapped; Questions Remain Why It Was Ever Approved

Posted: Updated:
A project to replace guardrails on a federal road across the Optima Lake Dam was set to receive 1.2 million in stimulus dollars. A project to replace guardrails on a federal road across the Optima Lake Dam was set to receive 1.2 million in stimulus dollars.
The Guymon City Manager estimates only about 15 cars use the road everyday, but if a crash were to occur, the current guardrails are not to current standards. The Guymon City Manager estimates only about 15 cars use the road everyday, but if a crash were to occur, the current guardrails are not to current standards.
With the road closing, locals must drive six miles around the dam, an inconvenience, but a relief to some who thought the new guardrails was like throwing money away. With the road closing, locals must drive six miles around the dam, an inconvenience, but a relief to some who thought the new guardrails was like throwing money away.

By Amy Lester, Oklahoma Impact

HARDESTY, Oklahoma -- There's controversy surrounding a guardrail project that landed on a list to receive $1.2 million in stimulus funds.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planned to use the money to replace guardrails on a federal road across the Optima Lake Dam in the Oklahoma panhandle.

"My personal opinion is they're wasting a lot of money, it's not going to the right places," said Ted Keeling, the Texas County Commissioner District One.

And, he's not the only one criticizing the project.

Interactive Features

Unemployment Tracker
Track unemployment and layoffs for the state of Oklahoma.

Track Recovery Spending
Track economic recovery spending for the state of Oklahoma.

"It just seems to us, maybe they could spend that money wiser somewhere else," said Guymon City Manager Ted Graham.

There are several reasons why city and county leaders, even U.S. Senators, call the new guardrails wasteful. First of all, the road's not used that frequently. County officials estimate 15 people drive their cars on the road everyday.

Secondly, the lake is not really a lake at all. The federal government spent $46 million constructing the Optima Lake Dam about 30 years ago, but the lake never filled up with water.

Ross Adkins, a Corps spokesman, said they picked Optima Lake to receive new guardrails for safety reasons and because they could be built quickly. 

"Somebody could, with slight inattention to what they're doing, drive off the side with disastrous results. We don't want that to happen," Adkins said.

But, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn doesn't believe new guardrails are necessary. When he and Sen. Jim Inhofe heard about the guardrails, they sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They expressed "serious concern regarding funding decisions" in Oklahoma.

The Corps' Tulsa District office was in the process of evaluating its list of projects when the letter arrived. They decided to pull the plug and not spend the money on guardrails. Instead, the Corps will dish out $1,000 to close the road.

We've also learned, the Corps plans to spend $200,000 in supplemental stimulus funding to demolish restrooms and camp sites at Optima Lake. Senator Coburn said he does not want another penny spent on the project.

More:
Replay a live chat about this story with Impact Team Reporter Amy Lester
Meet the Oklahoma Impact Team
Impact Team Forum

  • News9.com Poll

  • Do you think spending $1.2 million on new guardrails at Lake Optima is a waste of money?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Yes
    89%
    327 votes
    No
    11%
    40 votes
Powered by WorldNow
News 9
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
OKLAHOMA CITY'S OWN TM
Oklahoma's Own News9.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state including Oklahoma City's Own.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014, WorldNow and KWTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.