The state transportation commission on Monday signed off on a nearly $1.8 billion work program budget for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for the fiscal year starting July 1.
It includes hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding from the FY21 budget. Lawmakers restored road and bridge funding temporarily diverted to pay for other needs in down budget years and increased funding for county road and bridge repairs. They also approved ODOT to take out federal loans through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program to help speed up some work.
"And that is $50 million of the $200 million authorization provided in House Bill 2896. That particular loan will cover the rural, two-lane highways with deficient bridges," said ODOT Finance Director Chelley Hilmes.
Transportation commissioners had no questions on the budget. Chairman Gene McKown pre-emptively responded to any potential criticism as the clock approached noon during their meeting Monday.
"We’ve all been here since 9 o’clock this morning, reviewing all of these items in detail. And so, every now and then, I get a call from someone and it says, ‘Well, you guys are just a rubber stamp. You walk in there and approve everything they present.’ Our committees have heard all of these reports," McKown said.
The budget approval is largely a formality. The commission expects to receive several changes to it over the next 12 months.