High gas prices are keeping motorists off Oklahoma’s highways, causing a dip in gasoline tax revenues at a time when construction costs are increasing rapidly.

Michael Patterson, finance director at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, said he expects about a 4.5% drop in fuel tax revenue from the state’s 17-cent per gallon tax on gasoline in fiscal 2009. That is a decline of approximately $20 million a year, of which half is dedicated to the state’s highway system.

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