Transportation

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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.

File Photo

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.