The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is in the middle of a process to consolidate some of the functions it shares with the state turnpike authority and aeronautics commission, and ODOT is making some internal changes as well.
ODOT has a new multimodal division that will look at the big picture of surface transportation. Multimodal Division Manager Jared Schwennesen updated the agency's Waterways Advisory Board on the division Wednesday. He said they’ll look at how trains, boats, buses, and even bikes and scooters can work together to improve transportation for everyone from commuters to businesses looking to move products.
"If we can get more rails onto boats, we decrease blocked crossings. If we get more rail moving throughout the world, then we get less congestion on highways, and then we get less accidents with pedestrians. And it's just a better, holistic view of transportation," Schwennesen said.
Schwennesen said one of the goals is making a stronger case for non-highway forms of transportation.
"We need more money, we need more maintenance activities to happen, we need more grants from the feds, and how can we all do that together instead of fighting against each other? Let's try to help grow this pie and have a better advocacy voice at the capitol, along with within ODOT and our other transportation partners," Schwennesen said.
Schwennesen previously led ODOT’s rail division. The multimodal division will not deal with aviation-related issues.