Oberstar tours highway construction sites

Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 7:00 am By: M. Scott Carter

Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY - The United States should continue funding transportation investments under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for another six years, the chairman of the U.S. House's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said Monday afternoon.

Speaking at a press conference on Interstate 40, near a bridge at Lincoln Boulevard and Sheridan Avenue, U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minnesota, said the ARRA has funded 9,500 stimulus projects across the country and that funding needs to continue.

"Behind those projects are another 9,500 projects ready to go," he said.

Oberstar traveled to Oklahoma at the invitation of fellow U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma, to get a firsthand look at how the state was spending its transportation stimulus funds. Oberstar and Fallin were joined by officials from the commissioners and staff of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and several state lawmakers.

Prior to their Oklahoma City stop, the group toured highway construction sites in Tulsa.

Oberstar said the state has been effective "at investing all its allocation of highway funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, consistently ranking among the top states in our monthly analysis of Recovery Act projects."

"Oklahoma is No. 7 in the nation in allocation of its funds," he said, adding that those funds have resulted in almost 7,000 family-wage construction jobs on state highways and bridges.

Fallin said the state has taken important steps by increasing state funding to meet its future needs.

"The large backlog of road projects is the result to decades of neglect and shifting of road funds to other needs and it's going to take some years to reverse those effects," she said.

Oberstar, who was lobbied by Fallin and others to continue funding state transportation projects, said lawmakers wanted to help the state improve its roads and bridges.

"You've got me now and you've got me for the future," he said. "We want to help you do what you need to do."

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