Oklahoma’s rural roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation, according to a new report from a national transportation group.
TRIP researchers said 16 percent of Oklahoma’s rural bridges are structurally deficient, The Oklahoman reported. That’s the seventh highest rate in the nation.
The report also determined that 22 percent of Oklahoma’s rural roads are in poor condition and rank 10th worst rate in the nation.
According to the report, fatal accidents on Oklahoma’s rural roads are more than double the rate of the accidents on the state’s interstates and non-rural roads.
Oklahoma AAA spokesman Chuck Mai said the Legislature needs to help fund the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has been open about the “deteriorated pavement conditions on Oklahoma highways,” department spokesman Cody Boyd said, adding: “Oklahoma didn’t get into this situation overnight, and it cannot be fixed overnight.”
Counties have invested about $900 million to improve roads and bridges over the last 12 years, according to Gene Wallace, executive director of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma. He estimated it will take about $3 billion to $4 billion to make a difference.
“In our opinion, if you want to have a progressive growing state, you’ve got to have an infrastructure to carry the traffic,” Wallace said. “We’ve lost funding, like three years in a row, that have delayed some of these projects.”
Wallace said many of the state’s bridges were constructed before 1930, but that the weight of vehicles has increased since then and has contributed to the “number of inadequate bridges that we’ve got out there.”