This past week, I witnessed one of the most significant county road funding policy successes since taking office as state representative. For years, Oklahoma politicians have wrongly enforced punitive vehicle registration fees while failing to fund road construction with the money generated, and appropriating it instead for other purposes.
People instinctively know this is wrong. If we must pay vehicle registration fees, those revenues should be used to keep the roads up to par. Local residents can certainly testify to the destructive impact on their cars due to the years of neglected local roads.
You may recall a column last year when I wrote about the successful passage of a bill to take $30 million of the diverted vehicle revenues and redirecting it to the ODOT County Improvements for Road and Bridges managed program for improving county roads and bridges. This was an important step.
Last week the Legislature took action on another bill that will direct another $30 million of this revenue to county roads. This time, the money should go directly to the counties to be used to improve what are known as “collector” road miles, or heavily traveled roads. Unlike the previous effort, this money shouldn’t go through the state bureaucracy, which all too often adds cost to county governments.
The bill has been approved by both the House and Senate and will require approval one more time by each entity. Should this occur, and should the governor sign the bill, and I believe she will, Logan County can expect an approximate road funding increase of more than $400,000, while Oklahoma County should receive about $300,000. The increase to Logan County could be substantially higher as the county starts to factor in the miles of new collector miles due to the county’s rapid growth rate.
It is my hope that local county officials will choose to use this fund exclusively for paving District 31’s miles of unimproved section line roadways that badly need paving.
I co-sponsored both of the measures and will continue to support efforts to ensure that vehicle registration fee revenue is used exclusively for improving roadways.
A few weeks ago, I published the House District 31 Transportation Update Report. This report is available online at hd31.org/440 and features updates about upcoming improvements to both county and state roadways.
If you live near a road that needs improvement, I encourage you to take a look at the report. I certainly hope you will find your road listed. If not, please know that much progress is being made each year in lining up the funding for the roads that are most deserving of improvement, and you should expect that your favorite needy road will make its way to an upcoming edition of the report. I will keep you updated.
REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at email@example.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/JasonMurphey and Twitter.com/JWMurphey.