OKLA. CITY —
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx came to Oklahoma City Friday to meet with officials from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation about progress being made at a new interchange being built at I-44/I-235, west of the Broadway Extension. Gov. Mary Fallin joined Foxx along with U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe at the site.
“It is the beginning of the elimination of a functionally obsolete interchange,” said ODOT Director Mike Patterson.
The current project is the second of seven at the Interstate 44/Interstate 235 Broadway Extension interchange and is estimated at $9 million. Construction began in July and is expected to complete in the spring of next year, according to ODOT.
This phase is in the southwest quadrant of the interchange and replaces the eastbound I-44 off-ramp to southbound I-235, according to ODOT. It also includes temporary work to lengthen and add a lane to the current westbound I-44 off-ramp to northbound Broadway Extension.
Inhofe commended both Foxx and state Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley for the leadership in modernizing transportation.
“I have never driven on a Democratic or Republican road. I have never crossed a Republican or Democratic bridge,” Foxx said. “They are for all Americans.”
An infrastructure is being built to connect all Americans to the 21st century economy, Foxx said.
Fallin highlighted the progress being made in ODOT’s eight-year plan. More than $4.3 billion in bridge and highway improvements are planned by the end of 2019, according to ODOT.
ODOT’s eight-year plan is for 1,750 critical projects. Highlights include more than 650 bridge replacements or major rehabilitation, which is more than three times the amount in ODOT’s first eight-year plan in 2003.
Transportation infrastructure is critical to the state’s business climate and economic development, Fallin said.
“It’s a complicated interchange,” Fallin said on a hillside overlooking traffic congestion. “You have the railroad with a train going by a few moments ago. You have a creek over here and power lines. It’s certainly a busy area of Oklahoma City.”
Oklahoma has a business community of private and elected officials who coordinate a vision for Oklahoma, Foxx said. That type of vision is also needed at the national level, he said.
“What you are looking for is exactly what the president is talking about, when he’s talking about investing in America,” Foxx said.
Foxx said he will be working hard with Fallin, Ridley and Inhofe to ensure the priorities that the Obama administration has for the country find their way to Oklahoma.
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