Transportation

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will put new cruisers on state turnpikes in the coming weeks, but you may not notice them at first. 

"They're going to be specially marked. They're going to be a little different. They're going to be silver — one's [still] going to be solid white, some's still going to be solid black — they're going to be Dodge Chargers, but they're going to be a little sneaky. They're really going to bear down on the texting and driving. That's our hope," OHP Zone Commander Maj. Mike Mize told the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority this week.

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The state's top transportation official said the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is already making progress on recommendations a legislative watchdog made last month.

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Federal traffic consultants have been working with INCOG on a local road safety plan, and their review of crash data has revealed some areas of focus for the region.

"We are coming up higher on alcohol-involved crashes in our five-county region compared to the rest of the area. We are coming up as very high for bicycle- and pedestrian-related crashes as well," said INCOG Transportation Planning Director Viplav Putta.

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An INCOG committee is recommending 10 Tulsa-area projects for a round of federal coronavirus funding allocated for transportation.

The Tulsa area received $6.8 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. INCOG Director of Transportation Planning Viplav Putta said they chose projects out of 21 requests totaling more than $15 million dollars by scoring them, with safety being a primary concern.

Oklahoma’s toll roads are going cash-free, starting next month with the Kilpatrick Turnpike.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority voted this week to approve a contract with a company to process plate-based tolling invoices and to raise rates roughly 75% for drivers not using the PikePass system, which pays tolls automatically.

OTA Executive Director and State Transportation Secretary Tim Gatz said safety is the primary factor behind phasing out cash.

Group Seeks Safer Intersections

Jun 10, 2021

The Tulsa Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee took to the streets in downtown Tulsa this morning to experiment with ways to make intersections safer.

 

Using traffic cones and straw, the group set up a temporary protected intersection at 6th Street and Elgin Avenue.

 

Protected intersections use islands to shield pedestrians. They also make drivers slow down.

 

Mitch Drummond is the chair of BPAC. He said speed is a critical factor in fatal accidents.

 

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

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.

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The wheels are turning on a plan to designate U.S. 412 an interstate.

Sen. Jim Inhofe's legislation to designate the highway an interstate from I-35 in Noble County to I-49 in Springdale, Arkansas, is included in the surface transportation reauthorization bill recently passed out of a Senate committee. Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said interstate designation would be a big deal for Tulsa.

Oklahoma’s top transportation official said improvements in partnership with the Chickasaw Nation to relieve traffic backups on I-35 at Highway 9 are on hold because they’re not the right solution, not because he consulted with the governor’s office, which has come out against the project.

Pilot Program Explores On Demand Rides For Public Transit

Apr 28, 2021

On demand rides may soon be part of Tulsa’s public transportation strategy.

 

Steve Wilkes from IBI Group, a consulting company, gave a presentation to the Tulsa Transit Authority Board yesterday. Wilkes suggested an on demand pilot program for Nightline/Sunday Service routes 110 and 401.  

 

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is asking drivers to prepare for the spring and summer construction season.

"In fact, there will be nearly 270 highway work zones along with numerous temporary maintenance work zones statewide throughout summer. This work is critical to maintain and improve our highway and interstate infrastructure and bridges," said ODOT Chief Engineer Brian Taylor.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

More work is coming to the Inner Dispersal Loop.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved on Monday a $31 million contract for a project including pavement and bridge rehabilitation on the east leg.

"This is the fourth and final leg of the downtown highway loop, and it’ll be a full-depth pavement reconstruction. We began working on the IDL in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus program that came into being in 2009," said Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Tim Gatz.

If statewide toll collections are any indication, Oklahoma is emerging from the pandemic.

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority Finance and Revenue Director Wendy Smith said during a Tuesday meeting her staff has given her an early look at this month’s figures. March 12, 2020, is considered the pandemic start date.

Smith said toll revenues for this March 1–11 were up 2% from the same period in 2020.

Oklahoma’s top transportation official is hoping lawmakers make progress soon on policies to generate highway funding from hybrid and electric vehicles.

The concern is those types of vehicles use less gasoline, meaning less gas tax revenue for road and bridge work. State Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said last week there are many potential solutions, including registration fees or coming up with road user charges — essentially, a gallons of gasoline equivalent tax on electric miles traveled.

Commuters to and from Owasso, prepare for delays.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved a $1 million emergency contract Monday to repair pavement damage over a stretch of U.S. 169 caused by February’s winter storms. About a quarter mile of the highway around State Highway 266 needs to be fixed. Oklahoma Department of Transportation crews performed some road repairs there last week, but pavement in other spots deteriorated soon after.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has received $154 million from the federal coronavirus relief package passed in December.

State Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz plans to put a portion of that into the agency’s asset preservation fund. He said the timing of a cash infusion for road repairs couldn’t be better.

"I can’t emphasize enough the impact that two weeks of subfreezing weather conditions are going to have on our pavement structures for the springtime," Gatz told the Oklahoma Transportation Commission last week.

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The Oklahoma Department of Transportation expects a $150 million dollar boost from the $900 billion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump last month.

The legislation included $10 billion for state departments of transportation. Exact allocations will be determined later this month. ODOT Executive Director and State Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz wants to use Oklahoma's to offset increased spending on winter storm response and spend the money on projects.

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The Oklahoma Transportation Commission on Monday gave the green light to the state transportation department’s latest eight-year construction plan.

The work plan covers federal fiscal years 2021 through 2028.

"That plan has over $6 billion and more than 1,300 critical highway and bridge improvement projects included," said Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz.

State officials are looking for public feedback on Oklahoma’s first public transit plan through late November.

Oklahoma Transit Authority Executive Director Mark Nestlen said it represents a significant investment to move Oklahoma far up the national rankings, much like the plan to address structurally deficient bridges in the state.

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Sixteen years after being in 49th place for bridge conditions in the country, Oklahoma now ranks ninth.

At last count, 86 bridges on the state highway system — 1.3% — were considered structurally deficient. That’s down from almost 20% in 2004, thanks to 15 years of dedicated state funding and chasing federal grants to fix the problem.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

First it was turnpikes, now rural stretches of interstate in Oklahoma are getting higher speed limits.

A total of 399 miles along I-35 and I-40 will get 75 mph limits posted in the coming months.

"A comprehensive engineering study was completed for these locations in accordance with Department of Transportation rules, regulations and policies. We have a commitment to safety," said State Traffic Engineer Chad Pendley.

A lot of drivers on some Oklahoma toll roads may be going closer to the speed limit soon.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday approved raising the speed limit on some stretches of toll road to 80 mph. One of those is 13 miles of the Turner Turnpike between Sapulpa and Bristow, where OTA recently finished construction on an expansion to six lanes. OTA Executive Director and State Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said the speed limit increases were recommended only after a thorough study of each area.

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Tulsa saw significant decreases in vehicle miles traveled during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

INCOG Transportation Modeling Coordinator Nimish Dharmadhikari said on the south leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop, vehicle miles traveled between April 1 and April 15 were down 57% from the same period last year, and some areas of the city had steeper declines.

"Arts District experienced around 77% reduction in volume, whereas Brookside experienced about 69% reduction in volume," Dharmadhikari said.

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority earlier this month closed on a $120 million federal loan to help with construction of the Gilcrease Expressway in west Tulsa.

The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or TIFIA, loan will be used to pay off private, short-term financing being put up for the project in a few years time.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation

An infrastructure spending package could be part of future federal coronavirus response bills.

Oklahoma Department of Transportation Executive Director Tim Gatz said they are closely watching Washington for developments.

"The Department of Transportation is working hard as we speak to make sure that we are poised to meet the needs of whatever comes from the congress and the president, and we’ll continue our efforts to be ready with projects that can be moved quickly," Gatz said.

Tulsa Transit

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we meet the lead consultant for Tulsa's Mobility Innovation Strategy, which will encompass new ways of getting around the city from Rapid Bus Transit and scooters today, to autonomous and connected vehicles in the near future.  Kelley Coyner is the mobility innovation lead for the consultant firm Stantec, who has experience in government, education, research, and transit systems, and discusses the benefits of city investment in "smart transit," on vehicle and pedestrian safety, efficiency, environmental quality, and economic development.

Our guest on ST is Ren Barger, the founder and CEO of Tulsa Hub, which is, as noted at its website, "a syndicate of volunteers on a mission to change lives through cycling. It is the only nonprofit in Oklahoma providing certified bicycling-for-transportation education, refurbished bicycles, safety gear, and follow-up support to people in poverty, people with physical and mental disabilities, and people who are otherwise disenfranchised in our community.

On this edition of ST, an interesting chat with Tulsa Transit Interim General Manager Debbie Ruggles. In a joint appearance, City of Tulsa and Tulsa Transit officials recently announced a new bus rapid transit line for our community, which will run mainly along Peoria Avenue. It will be known as the Aero system. Service on the Aero -- which will run in rotation from Peoria and 36th Street North to 81st and Lewis -- is expected to start in Spring 2019.