Sen. Inhofe to request $65 million in federal funding for rural Oklahoma highways

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz speaks about rural highways at Ardmore City Hall on Thursday, July 8 as Luke Holland, chief of staff for Sen. Jim Inhofe looks on.

Representatives from the office of Senator Jim Inhofe along with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation were in Ardmore Thursday afternoon to announce the senator's plans to ask for $65 million in federal funding for rural highways in the state of Oklahoma. Within the state there are approximately 5,000 miles of rural two-lane highways which account for nearly 60% of all fatalities and serious injuries on Oklahoma roadways.

Luke Holland, chief of staff for Sen. Inhofe, said the the funds are awarded they will be used to install safety shoulders on eight different highway projects within the state.

“It's been a big priority of Sen. Inhofe, Gov. Stitt and Sec. Gatz to really focus in on how we can improve these two lane highways and add shoulders to them so that the roads are safer for all our family members as they travel across the state,” Holland said.

Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said these eight projects are already shovel ready and will eventually go ahead with or without federal funds. However an influx of federal funding would accelerate these projects and more forward with others.

“The reality is, it no only allows us to accelerate work on these these types of facilities across the state, it also has a ripple effect,” Gatz said. “The department uses an eight year construction work plan, so our work is planned out for the next eight years. So when we get an infusion of dollars what happens is that it ripples through the eight year construction work plan, and it lets us accelerate other work around the state.”

Holland said if the funding is accepted by the appropriations committee and enacted before the end of the year, the state should have the funding at their disposal sometime in the first quarter of 2022.