Three road projects in Oklahoma financed with federal infrastructure stimulus funds got under way last week, one month after the contracts were approved by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission.

The commission has awarded road and bridge contracts totaling $314 million, or 67% of the $465 million in transportation funding that Oklahoma will receive from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said that is currently the highest percentage of any state.

“We’re excited that these projects are starting this quickly,” said ODOT director Gary Ridley. “We began working to get these projects ready in October when it became apparent there would be a stimulus package.”

Road construction activity in the state will be twice what it was in 2008, according to ODOT.

The Federal Highway Administration listed Oklahoma in the lead position in transportation stimulus spending after the commission awarded $228.4 million of contracts for stimulus projects in late March. The additional funding approved at last week’s meeting, including $19 million of contracts for 30 county bridges supported with stimulus dollars, should solidify that position, said ODOT spokeswoman Terri Angier.

Ridley said the department hopes to use about $30 million of the state’s stimulus funds for county roads. He said the projects will include replacement of nearly 50 county bridges.

Oklahoma also received $39 million in stimulus funding for transit projects. Of that amount, $22 million is allocated to public transportation efforts in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman, and Lawton. The remaining nearly $17 million will be used to replace vehicles for rural transit providers.

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