ODOT Ready to Tackle Projects

Monday, February 9th 2009, 5:43 pm
By: News 9

By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- As lawmakers in Washington haggle out a final deal, it's a waiting game for those who work on Oklahoma's roads and bridges. Now, they're ready to go with projects, but funding is still up in the air.

The problem is Oklahoma doesn't know exactly how much it will get for road and bridge projects. But even without knowing an exact dollar amount the state is ready to go once it gets the green light.

"I think if we weren't the first state to do that we were probably one of the top two states to begin working on this," said Terry Angier of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

Terry Angier said even before Americans went to the polls to decide on a president, ODOT employees began preparing for a stimulus package.

"We could tell from both senators that could be something coming down the pike," Angier said.

Now, after finishing about a year's worth of work in about 60 days, ODOT is ready for Washington. The state is prepared to start construction right away on projects totaling about $1.1 billion.

"We should get about $465 million is our calculation even though we're ready for $1.1," said Angier said.

Horrocks will likely work on some of those stimulus projects. These days, he's keeping a close eye on more than roads and bridges.

"We watch C-SPAN and listen to them talk; keep as much info as we can too," Horrocks said.

Horrocks said his company would likely hire dozens to work on stimulus projects. The state expects up to 15,000 jobs could be created in Oklahoma. That number is not enough according to one Oklahoma senator who opposes the Senate's version of the plan.

"I think we're going to have to do some things that really will stimulate the economy," Senator Jim Inhofe said. "I think we're going to have to accelerate something such as the road program. That is what I wanted. I wanted to increase that by $50 billion."

Senator Inhofe plans to vote against the Senate's version of the plan Tuesday. As for road projects in Oklahoma, he says the state has done a great job preparing for stimulus money.

Among the stimulus roads projects is reconstructing a big portion of Interstate 235. Also, I-40 would be resurfaced in several counties, including Oklahoma, Canadian and Beckham counties.