- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Officials estimate that $37.4 billion is needed over the next 25 years to fund needed repairs and improvements to Oklahoma’s transportation system.

But only $28.5 billion in revenue is expected to be available to meet those needs, according to a final draft of a new long range planning document prepared by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Bridging the nearly $9 billion funding gap is a challenge the department likely will face over the years, The Oklahoman (https://bit.ly/1MsqMKi ) reported.

“What to do about the gap? That’s always the question,” said John Bowman, director of capital programs for the state transportation department. “We’ve always had a shortfall from what our needs are versus what’s available to us.”

The 25-year plan establishes the agency’s goals and priorities. The department’s focus over the past decade has been to repair and replace deteriorated bridges. The number of structurally deficient bridges has decreased from 1,168 in 2004 to 372 in 2014.

Bowman said an emphasis on improving bridges will continue, but the department expects to have made enough progress by the end of this decade that it can begin shifting resources to deal more with pavement issues.

Among safety improvements, the department also would like to install around 545 miles of median cable barriers, 5,000 miles of centerline rumble strips and 2,200 miles of guardrail upgrades or replacements.

The state Transportation Department spent around a year working with the public in establishing its transportation system goals and priorities for the next 25 years. The public may comment on the final draft document until Aug. 5.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, https://www.newsok.com

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