Funding Transportation in Oklahoma
Lifeblood from ODOT on Vimeo
Whether it’s moving people or products, our transportation system is the lifeblood of the state’s and nation’s economy by providing the network for:
- Farmers, ranchers and oil and gas producers to move their products from the field to the market efficiently by truck and rail;
- Companies to bring materials in and ship goods out to buyers across the country;
- Businesses to locate in areas convenient for their customers; and
- Commuters to get to work and school safely and reliably.
The mission of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is to provide a safe, economical and effective transportation network for the people, commerce and communities of Oklahoma.
How does ODOT carry out this mission? This guide helps explain the state’s transportation system, how it’s funded and the challenges it faces now and in the future.
Progress on highways & bridges
- Bridges maintained by ODOT: More than 6,800
- The number of structurally deficient bridges on the highway system has been reduced from an all-time high of 1,168 in 2004 down to 251 in ODOT's 2016 report to the Federal Highway Administration. (see chart above)
- All known structurally deficient bridges are programmed in the Eight-year Construction Work Plan to be addressed by the end of the decade, and ODOT anticipates fewer than 1% of bridges will be rated structurally deficient by 2020.
- Bridges replaced or rehabilitated since 2006: 1,224
- Bridges scheduled for replacement or rehabilitation: 824
- Highway miles maintained by ODOT: More than 30,000 lane miles, or 12,265 centerline miles
- Interstate pavement resurfaced, reconstructed or significantly rehabilitated since 2003: 413 miles
- Improvements to two-lane highways scheduled: 751 miles
- Interstate pavement improvements scheduled: 152 miles
Costs and Efficiency
- ODOT observes funding limitations and has implemented cuts internally to ensure that taxpayer resources are going directly to highway engineering, construction and maintenance.
- Administrative costs: 2% of total expenses
- ODOT has reduced the number of employees from about 3,200 in 1990 down to 2,300 in 2015.
- Much of the agency’s pre-construction work is contracted out to private-sector engineering firms and all construction is performed by private-sector contractors, who competitively bid on projects.
- Other cost-saving measures due to budget cuts include reducing out-of-state travel, delaying the replacement of vehicles and equipment, delaying purchase of new computers and software, leaving some vacant positions unfilled and delaying the replacement of outdated maintenance facilities.
How are Oklahoma highways funded?
Highway construction and maintenance in Oklahoma is funded by a combination of state and federal taxes and fees. State funding includes state motor fuel taxes, state motor vehicle tax and fee collections and state income taxes. By law, all toll collections go to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority for turnpike construction and maintenance.
State Motor Fuel Taxes
- State taxes (17 cents on gasoline and 14 cents on diesel) are assessed on each gallon of motor fuel purchased. The tax per gallon stays the same regardless of the price of gas.
- By statute, ODOT receives about 48% of state motor fuel tax revenue annually. 52% is allocated to other areas of state government, cities and counties. (see chart above)
- Oklahoma’s fuel tax rates were last set in 1987 and are the lowest in the region and among the lowest in the nation.
- From 1985-2005, state highway funding was based almost entirely on fuel tax collections, which has remained stagnant at about $200 million annually for decades.
State Motor Vehicle Collections
- The state collects taxes and fees on automobile purchases, licenses, permits, tags, titles, etc.
- By statute, ODOT receives less than 1% of all state motor vehicle tax and fee collections, with portions going to different areas of government. (see chart above)
State Income Tax
- Since 2006, ODOT has received an annual allocation of state income tax revenue to the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) fund for highway construction. (see chart above)
- Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 ROADS allocations were reduced due to the state budget shortfall.
- By statute, the allocation to the ROADS fund is capped at $575 million annually. The cap will be reached in FY 2019.
- Federal taxes on motor fuel, heavy trucks, tires and trailers, as well as appropriations from the General Fund go to the Highway Trust Fund to provide resources for state, city and county transportation projects.
- Each state receives an allocation of funding, which is further divided among highways, city streets, county roads, public transportation, railroad crossing safety, transportation research and metropolitan transportation planning.
- ODOT administers federal funding for transit, rail and local government projects.
- Oklahoma also competes with other states for special federal grants for transportation projects. For example, ODOT was awarded a FASTLANE grant in 2016.
How does ODOT spend highway funds?
ODOT’s investment strategy for highways includes construction, asset preservation and maintenance.
- Construction – All activities associated with the design and construction of major highway and bridge projects in the Eight-year Construction Work Plan. This includes engineering, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation and construction.
- Asset Preservation – Preventative maintenance projects in the Asset Preservation Plan are designed to extend the life of the transportation system through pavement resurfacing and rehabilitation, bridge rehabilitation and bridge painting and sealing.
- Maintenance – Routine and reactive maintenance performed by crews in ODOT’s eight Field Divisions is required to keep highways safe for the driving public. This work includes pothole patching, surface and bridge repair, guardrail and cable barrier replacement, snow and ice removal and other repairs.
- Most of ODOT's total budget goes to Capital Activities (highway construction, asset preservation, rail and local government road projects) and Operations.
- Administrative costs make up only 2% of total expenses (see chart above)
How are highways affected by budget cuts?
View interactive map
- State budget cuts to ODOT from FY 2010-FY 2016: $346.8 million
- State budget cuts to ODOT in FY 2017: $367 million, with ODOT being authorized to sell $200 million in bonds to partially offset some of the cuts.
- Because motor fuel taxes are assessed based on the gallons of fuel purchased, not price, fuel taxes are a declining revenue source as fuel efficiency continues to increase.
- ODOT remains committed to replacing or rehabilitating all remaining structurally deficient highway bridges by the end of the decade. However, many necessary pavement improvement and congestion mitigation projects have been delayed to later years in the Eight-year Plan.
- With increasing traffic volumes and Oklahoma’s weather challenges, highway pavements will continue to deteriorate rapidly, so maintenance and preservation remain top priorities for ODOT.
- As construction projects in the Eight-year Plan are delayed, ODOT will have to perform additional maintenance on those affected highways and bridges to keep them in service until they can be rehabilitated or reconstructed.
Highway and Bridge Needs
- Backlog of needed highway improvements due to decades of underfunding and deferred maintenance: $11 billion
- Highway bridges that are more than 80 years old: 1,087 (see chart above)
- Highway with deteriorated pavement, inadequate capacity, no paved shoulders, steep hills or sharp curves with no scheduled improvements in the Eight-year Plan: 3,111 miles
How big is Oklahoma’s highway system?
View interactive map
- ODOT maintains about 6,800 highway bridges and more than 30,000 lane miles of highways, or 12,265 centerline miles. This does not include county roads or city streets, which are maintained by local governments, or toll roads, which are maintained by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.
- Despite having a much smaller population, Oklahoma ranks 17th in the nation for number of centerline highway miles, just behind states like California and New York and just ahead of such states as Florida and Minnesota.
- Oklahoma has 673 miles of non-tolled interstate, which accounts for only 5.5% of total centerline miles but carries more than 33% of all daily traffic miles traveled.
- Oklahoma’s system of highways and bridges is the state’s most valuable physical asset, valued at $60 billion.
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