2018 Year in Review
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation recounts its top 10 highlights of 2018 in this Year in Review. From a major funding milestone to autonomous vehicles, here's what happened in Oklahoma transportation in 2018:
Designed to help reverse the decades-long trend of underfunding for transportation, the Rebuilding Oklahoma Driver Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) fund received an incrementally increasing allocation of state income tax revenue to fund highway and bridge projects. The ROADS fund reached its statutory annual cap of $575 million in State Fiscal Year 2019.
* ROADS fund allocations reduced due to budget shortfall
Transportation progress made thanks to ROADS fund
A major bipartisan effort to reverse decades of underfunding for transportation in Oklahoma reached a critical milestone in 2018. The allocation of state income tax revenue to the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) fund benefiting highway and bridge construction climbed to $575 million for State Fiscal Year 2019, reaching the annual cap on the fund set in state law.
From 1985 to 2005, state funding for highways was based on a portion of Oklahoma’s motor fuel tax revenue, which had remained stagnant at about $200 million annually and barely covered basic maintenance and operations. In 2005, the Legislature created the ROADS fund and directed an incrementally increasing amount of new revenue to transportation, allowing ODOT to finally begin to address longtime needs like structurally deficient bridges, deteriorated pavement, outdated interchanges, urban congestion and narrow two-lane rural highways.
In September 2018, the Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved ODOT’s Eight-Year Construction Work Plan for Federal Fiscal Years 2019-2026. The plan prioritizes critically needed highway projects and is updated each year based on available state and federal funding projections. This latest version contains nearly $6.5 billion for nearly 1,400 highway and bridge projects in the next eight years.
Most notably, the updated Eight-Year Plan includes a major investment in improving pavement conditions statewide. Since 2006, ODOT has been focused on addressing the state’s bridges, which were some of the worst in the nation. With bridge conditions finally becoming manageable, more resources will be available for pavement improvements in the coming years.
Check out the updated Eight-Year Plan at https://www.ok.gov/odot/Programs_and_Projects/8_Year_Construction_Work_Plan/index.html
A new bridge on SH-79 over the Red River in Jefferson County opened to traffic in October. The Oklahoma and Texas DOTs split the $22 million cost of the project.
Oklahoma continues progress on bridge replacements in 2018
Thanks to an aggressive bridge replacement and rehabilitation program, the number of structurally deficient bridges on Oklahoma’s highway system has been slashed from an all-time high of 1,168 in 2004 down to 155 by the end of 2018. ODOT has replaced or rehabilitated 1,369 bridges since 2006, and 764 more bridges are scheduled for replacement or rehabilitation in FFY 2019-2026.
All remaining structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system are programmed in the Eight-Year Construction Work Plan to be addressed by the end of the decade, with a goal of less than 1 percent of bridges rated structurally deficient by 2020.
ODOT maintains about 6,800 highway bridges, while cities and counties are responsible for 16,000 local bridges.
ODOT tackled several major bridge projects in 2018:
- A new SH-33 bridge spanning Cottonwood Creek in Guthrie, and costing nearly $18 million, opened to traffic in early December. The original viaduct was constructed in 1936 and was two lanes wide. The new bridge is four lanes wide and addresses previous flooding concerns.
- A $22 million contract was awarded in 2017 to construct a new bridge on SH-79 over the Red River in Jefferson County; the new bridge opened to traffic in October 2018. The new structure is wider than the original, which was built in 1939.
- A contract of up to $38 million was awarded in September 2017 for replacement of the US-77/SH-39 bridge between Purcell and Lexington, and the first half of the new bridge opened to traffic in August 2018. The old bridge, built in 1938, was demolished to make way for construction of the second half of the new, four-lane bridge.
- A $43 million contract was awarded in November for replacement of the mile-long Willis Bridge on US-377/SH-99 that spans Lake Texoma and connects Madill, Okla., with Whitesboro, Texas. The existing structure is 58 years old, narrow, and its deck is in poor condition. The new bridge will be longer, taller and wider.
Learn more about current Oklahoma highway and bridge conditions at https://www.ok.gov/odot/Highway_System_Conditions.html
More than 700 people came out to see the railroad truss bridge installation in person the weekend of Jan. 26-29. The two halves of the bridge were moved more than a quarter-mile on self-propelled mobile transports.
‘Off Broadway’ bridge installation captures public’s attention early in 2018
There were several “firsts” associated with the early 2018 installation of a 45-foot-tall railroad truss bridge over I-235/US-77 near downtown Oklahoma City.
The unique nature of building the two spans — weighing in at 2 million pounds apiece — adjacent to the work zone and then moving them nearly a quarter of a mile down the interstate on self-propelled motor transports captured the public’s imagination in a way that no other project has in recent memory. This was the first time the department used the ABC bridge moving technique on this scale and it came as part of the then-largest, single dollar amount contract awarded in Oklahoma Department of Transportation history. Allen Contracting Inc. of Oklahoma City partnered with a nationally known bridge construction contractor and they completed the installation through the weekend closure of I-235 on Jan. 26-29, 2018.
And with intense interest, ODOT sought new ways of communicating directly with the public. The department chose to do three things — each for the first time— to satisfy this need:
- A public viewing and media area was designated on the N. 50th St. bridge abutment looking out across I-235 complete with bleachers to hold about 100 people. More than 700 people came out to the site throughout the weekend to witness the bridge installation first-hand.
- ODOT used its then year-old Facebook page to serve as the information hub for updates to the public, including multiple live interviews with engineers on site throughout the closure.
- The department also offered its first continuous live stream of the work at www.i235live.com, resulting in more than 17,000 views. In all, more than 2 million people were reached via media coverage, the livestream, ODOT’s website and social media.
The project continued to achieve success by opening within 22 months after the January 2017 start of construction. All six lanes of I-235 between N. 36th St. and N. 50th St. opened to traffic the morning of Nov. 2, 2018.
While motorists are getting a short respite from construction barrels and barrier wall, they should not get too used to I-235/US-77. The next two combined phases are scheduled to begin in spring 2019 with the newest contract awarded in December 2018 now the single largest dollar contract in state history at $105 million. The anticipated two-year construction timeline will focus on widening the I-235/I-44 interchange between N. 50th St. and N.W. 63rd St., creating the first four-level interchange on the state highway system by adding two flyover bridge ramps.
A final phase expected to go to contract in 2020 will reconstruct westbound I-44 to the northbound US-77/Broadway Ext. ramp as well as add a direct connection from N. Lincoln Blvd. to US-77/Broadway Ext.
Learn more about the upcoming project details including detour routes at: https://www.ok.gov/odot/I-235_I-44_interchange.html
I-44 will be reconstructed and widened between the Arkansas River and Union Ave. and two bridges will be replaced as part of the project, as shown in this map.
Federal grant announced for I-44 in Tulsa
June brought some welcome news for the oldest remaining section of interstate in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation was awarded a $45 million federal Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant toward improvements on I-44 west of the Arkansas River in Tulsa.
This section of roadway between the Arkansas River and the I-244 western split was constructed before the creation of the interstate system in the mid-1950s and today traffic struggles with the narrow lanes, aging bridges and congestion. About 90,000 vehicles travel this section of I-44 daily. Preliminary estimates show $350 million or more is needed to improve this entire corridor.
Thanks to the funding from the INFRA grant, a project has been added into the department’s Eight-Year Construction Work Plan for FFY 2021 to widen and improve I-44 between the Arkansas River and Union Ave. The grant is also allowing two bridge replacement projects in the corridor at I-44 and 33rd W. Ave. and at I-44 and Union Ave. to advance. ODOT will continue to look for other funding solutions to address all the critical needs in this corridor.
Check out ODOT’s grant application and supporting documents at https://www.ok.gov/odot/Progress_and_Performance/Federal_Grant_Awards/INFRA_Grants/Tulsa_County_I-44_and_US-75.html
Drivers will notice new half-mile marker signs along I-35 between Davis and Moore as part of a pilot safety program launched in 2018.
More traffic safety technology comes to Oklahoma highways
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation began installing half-mile makers along Oklahoma interstates in 2018 as part of a safety initiative to help first responders. The signs were first installed in Cleveland, McClain and Garvin counties as a pilot program to assist emergency crews with more accurate collision reporting when responding to collisions and calls to assist stranded motorists. This year, a total of 130 signs were placed along I-35 between Davis and Moore. The program to install more half-mile marker signs will expand in 2019.
Other safety measures ODOT continues to implement include centerline rumble strips and cable barrier.
Centerline rumble strips were introduced on Oklahoma highways in 2017 in an effort to cut down on crossover crashes. Centerline rumble strips alert drivers with a vibration when the car crosses the centerline. The safety device is designed for two-lane rural roads, where 229 fatalities occurred on undivided highways statewide from 2013 to 2015. This year, centerline rumble strips were installed on highways in 29 counties.
Cable barriers are designed to help deflect crash impacts from potential crossover collisions on multi-lane divided highways. More than 685 miles of cable barrier have been installed across the state since 2007 at a cost of $81 million. The first cable barrier system was installed on SH-74/Lake Hefner Parkway in Oklahoma City in 2001 and the technology has since been expanded to most of the interstate system and other divided highways. In 2018, a contract was awarded to install a 6.6-mile stretch of cable barrier on US-81 in Grady County.
Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson helped cut the ribbon to open the City of Oklahoma City’s new streetcar in December.
Photo provided by the City of Oklahoma City.
New and improved public transit services available in Oklahoma
2018 saw brand-new public transit services coming to Oklahoma and existing services improved.
In April, the Federal Transit Administration announced that three Oklahoma grants were included in the 139 projects receiving grant funding from the Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program. Transit ridership is increasing, not only in urban areas, but also in rural communities where Oklahomans face longer commutes to work and the elderly and disabled seek access to medical care and other services.
A nearly $3.6 million federal grant to ODOT will provide funding to help 10 rural transit operators serving 45 counties modernize their fleets with more accessible and reliable vehicles. ODOT also received a $2.4 million grant to replace a 50-year-old existing maintenance facility for Oklahoma State University-Stillwater Transit. Additionally, the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority received a more than $4.2 million grant to purchase Compressed Natural Gas buses to replace diesel transit buses that have exceeded their useful life.
Read more about these transit grants at https://www.ok.gov/triton/modules/newsroom/newsroom_article.php?id=277&article_id=42122
In December, the Oklahoma City Streetcar officially opened to passengers following a widely attended ribbon cutting ceremony featuring local officials and Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson. The new service, operated by the City of Oklahoma City, is the state’s first modern streetcar and is funded through local sales taxes. The streetcar runs on a rail and runs a route of two loops serving Downtown, Bricktown, Automobile Alley and Midtown. As required by federal law, ODOT is responsible for safety oversight of fixed guideway rail transit systems, including the new streetcar.
For more information about the Oklahoma City Streetcar, visit www.okcstreetcar.com
Also in December, the City of Oklahoma City was selected to receive a $14.3 million federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant to build the city’s first Bus Rapid Transit line, connecting the downtown area with the northwest side. The City of Tulsa was awarded a $6.5 million BUILD grant for fiber optic/broadband cable connections for traffic signals and Bus Rapid Transit stations, as well as installation of traffic cameras at major intersections.
Read more about BUILD grants at https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-transportation-secretary-elaine-l-chao-announces-15-billion-build-transportation
ODOT partnered with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Fairway Outdoor Advertising to place 28 billboards along interstates and state highways reminding motorists to drive with care in work zones.
‘Your Life Matters’ when it comes to work zone safety
Highlighting work zone awareness is about more than just keeping highway workers safe. With its nationally award-winning Your Life Matters: Drive Like It campaign, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation spent the month of April 2018 highlighting that the life motorists save might be their own when they put away distractions and lower their speed in work zones.
In the past five years, 86 people were killed in work zone crashes in Oklahoma and four of those were ODOT employees. There were 1,650 people injured in work zone collisions in the same time frame. In total, 60 ODOT workers have been killed in the line of duty since 1931, more than any other state agency. In fact, two ODOT maintenance employees suffered injuries May 1, 2018, when a semi-tractor trailer rig hit their truck along US-75 south of Tulsa on the next to last day of the campaign.
Thanks to additional funding for transportation and the efforts to address our state’s backlog of necessary infrastructure improvements, Oklahoma has an increased number of highway work zones, making it more important than ever that motorists stay vigilant behind the wheel.
With the help of our partners, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, the department aims to remind motorists that the main causes of fatalities and injuries are inattentive driving, following too closely and speeding in construction zones. The agencies reached out to the public through billboards and a Public Service Announcement and videos on social media. View the PSA at https://vimeo.com/261504093
In September, ODOT joined with the Oklahoma Insurance Department, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority in the insurance department’s #JustDriveOK campaign aimed at encouraging teen drivers to take an anti-texting and driving pledge.
ODOT wants to thank drivers for their continued efforts to reduce work zone collisions and fatalities by driving safely and distraction-free. Learn more about the 2018 campaign at https://www.ok.gov/triton//odot/WorkZoneAwareness.html
GO-DOT from ODOT on Vimeo.
GO-DOT debuts to help motorists stranded in busy work zones
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation initiated GO-DOT in 2018, a pilot program to assist stranded motorists in targeted high-traffic areas. The program was launched during the $88 million reconstruction project on I-235 between N. 36th St. and N. 50th St. in Oklahoma City.
More than $400,000 in federal funds were used to buy two specially equipped Ford F-450 trucks that are used to move stalled vehicles off a busy roadway and to a safe location nearby.
Initially the two trucks were operated and maintained by Allen Contracting for the duration of the I-235 project. Upon completion of the contract in late 2018, ODOT took possession of the trucks and is in the process of hiring operators.
Now the trucks will focus on other high-traffic areas in the Oklahoma City metro area. The GO-DOT program is scheduled to be duplicated in Tulsa.
GO-DOT is not a towing service, officials emphasized. Stalled or abandoned vehicles are moved to a safe location, and from there motorists need to use private companies or services to move their vehicles. Motorists are reminded that during an emergency or crash, they still should call *55 or 911 and law enforcement will notify GO-DOT.
Check out the GO-DOT video at https://vimeo.com/283101476
In September, Gov. Mary Fallin joined Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson, members of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission and private sector partners to cut the ribbon for ODOT’s new electric vehicle charging stations at the agency’s Oklahoma City headquarters.
Transportation technology innovations abound in 2018
Introduction of snow plow cameras and a travel app, electric vehicle charging stations and work on autonomous vehicles highlighted ODOT’s technology innovations in 2018.
Just in time for the winter season, ODOT announced that it had added nearly 200 cameras to its fleet of snow plows. These cameras allow motorists to view near real-time conditions via the agency’s inclement weather website www.okroads.org or new mobile phone app. The Center for Intelligent Transportation Systems at the University of Oklahoma supports these cameras and the app. The new snow plow cameras are especially useful in Oklahoma’s rural areas, which don’t have a pre-existing network of traffic cameras like the metro areas. There are currently more than 400 metro area cameras that Oklahoma drivers can access through www.oktraffic.org.
Read more about ODOT’s snow plow cameras and app at https://www.ok.gov/triton/modules/newsroom/newsroom_article.php?id=277&article_id=46902
The agency took another step in addressing the public interest in alternative fuels in September with the installation of two new electric vehicle charging stations. Partners including Spiers New Technologies of Oklahoma City, Pelco Products and OG&E helped provide this new fuel source at the agency’s Oklahoma City headquarters. In November, ODOT joined the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the office of the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment in announcing a funding program to expand the state’s network of EV stations. The ChargeOK Grant Program, funded by the Volkswagen State Environmental Trust, is offering more than $3 million on a competitive basis for the purchase, installation and operation of public charging stations throughout Oklahoma.
For more information on ODOT’s new EV charging stations, visit https://www.ok.gov/triton/modules/newsroom/newsroom_article.php?id=277&article_id=44797
Also in September, Esperanza Real Estate Investments announced that it had signed a landmark deal with Udelv, a leading Autonomous Delivery Vehicle company, to bring autonomous delivery vehicles to the Oklahoma City metro area. The ADVs will provide Oklahoma City’s largest local chain of independent grocery stores with self-driving delivery vans in 2019. Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson joined in the announcement and noted that ODOT’s Driving Oklahoma Working Group has been working with public and private stakeholders on best practices in Oklahoma for the emerging autonomous and connected vehicle trend.
The Oklahoma Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar recognized ODOT with its 2018 Employer of the Year award. Pictured, from left are Oklahoma Transportation Commission Chairman David Burrage, WTS Oklahoma President Susan Davis and Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson.
ODOT brings home national, regional honors
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation received several awards in 2018 for bridge projects, anti-litter campaigns, the I-235 Off-Broadway project and employment and recruitment efforts. Each of these awards is an honor to receive and an illustration of how the department’s employees strive to better themselves.
In the fall, ODOT’s Tulsa-based Division 8 received the Pharaoh Award for a project to rehabilitate the eastbound US-412 bridge over the Verdigris River in Rogers County. This award recognizes the state’s best bridge project each year.
The department received Keep America Beautiful’s State Agency Partnership award for its partnership with Keep Oklahoma Beautiful to combat litter statewide through efforts such as the annual Trash-OFF volunteer day each April and the annual Trash Poster Calendar, which aims to educate students statewide about how to combat litter. Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the state’s natural beauty.
Highway and bridge maintenance is critical to ODOT’s mission, and the department was recognized in 2018 for its use of specialized software applications as part of its maintenance strategy. AgileAssets presented ODOT with its top award, the Excellence in Infrastructure Asset Management Award, for use of the company’s software in management of highway maintenance resources and costs.
ODOT’s Off-Broadway project on I-235 in Oklahoma City received national attention in early 2018. During the weekend of Jan. 26-29, the highway was closed for installation of a massive railroad bridge over I-235. The project earned a first place award in the Best Highway/Bridge Project category of the Engineering News-Record’s Regional Best Projects for 2018 for the southern region, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Additionally, the department’s public outreach efforts for this project received awards from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in the 2018 Skills Contest and an honorable mention in the 2018 UpperCase Awards from the Public Relations Society of America-Oklahoma City Chapter.
The department’s support for women in the transportation industry also was recognized. ODOT was presented with the Oklahoma Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar’s 2018 Employer of the Year award for the agency’s support for recruitment, training and advancement of women.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) ensures that no person or groups of persons shall, on the grounds of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, retaliation or genetic information, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any and all programs, services, or activities administered by ODOT, its recipients, sub-recipients, and contractors. To request an accommodation please contact the ADA Coordinator at 405-521-4140 or the Oklahoma Relay Service at 1-800-722-0353.