Have a story idea
Have a story idea? Send it to us here.
Source : Wikimedia Commons
June 14, 2022
Author : Alex Bustillos
If you live or work in rural parts of the “Sooner State” you may soon benefit from safer roadways.
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has enacted new low-interest loans for rural road safety projects under the Oklahoma DOT (OKDOT). Long rural roads where cars speed around slower vehicles is a common danger for those driving in the state.
To help tackle the problem OKDOT is receiving a $41.55 million low-interest, long-term loan from the US DOT's Build America Bureau. This will help finance 49 percent of the $85.97 million in eligible costs for the Rural Two-Lane Advancement And Management Plan (RAAMP). This is a significant increase from the earlier 33 percent coverage.
The initiative consists of eight Oklahoma projects. It includes approximately 27 miles of eight-foot shoulders, asphalt resurfacing, and 6.4 miles of road rebuilding — all of which are aimed at increasing safety. The Oklahoma counties to benefit are Harper, Kingfisher, Pontotoc, Caddo, Pittsburg, McClain, Bryan, and Ellis.
"Over the last five years, 38 percent of all serious and fatal crashes in Oklahoma have occurred on rural roads with no shoulders," said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. "US DOT is proud to support the RAAMP program to help address safety issues and save lives in Oklahoma."
The funding has been sanctioned through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans. The TIFIA program offers credit to qualified regional and national infrastructure projects. Many large-scale surface transportation projects are eligible for funding, including highways, transit, railroads, intermodal freight, and port access.
The Build America Bureau was established during the tenure of Pres. Barack Obama to help states execute infrastructure projects. President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in November 2021 extended the program eligibility for the Bureau's TIFIA credit facility and prolonged loan term, providing borrowers more choices.
In January the US DOT established a comprehensive National Roadway Safety Strategy in response to recent alarming rises in road mortality cases in the United States. To help reverse these trends and save lives, president Biden's IIJA contains unprecedented levels of financing for road safety, particularly in rural regions, where traffic injuries and fatalities are disproportionately high.
The TIFIA Rural Project Initiative aims to strengthen rural America's transportation infrastructure. The initiative will fund projects worth between $10 million and $100 million in locations with populations of less than 150,000 people. Its benefits include borrowing up to 49 percent of a project's qualified costs, as opposed to the 33 percent granted by regular TIFIA loans. Oklahoma will also get a fixed interest rate on its loan equal to one-half of the US Treasury rate for the loan's equivalent maturity and closing date.
"The Bureau's Rural Project Initiative provides flexibility to deliver much-needed improvements sooner with very favorable financing terms," Morteza Farajian, Build America Bureau executive director, said. "This is our fifth RPI loan closed at half the Treasury rate, which saves project sponsors money and avoids escalating costs that make the projects more and more unattainable."
Previously on Contractor News we covered how OKDOT launched a 8-year plan with $7.7 billion in funding. The projects include a list of critically needed transportation improvements for Oklahoma's interstates, US and state highways, and bridges. It also addresses 1,013 miles of rural two-lane highways with poor shoulders with much-needed safety modifications.
Working simultaneously, all of these projects should help to enhance road safety across Oklahoma’s rural landscape.
Follow Contractor News for the latest updates on public works construction projects across the United States.