Highlights of the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s Nov. 8 meeting
include presentation of a national award for work with the Heartland Flyer;
a discussion of recent grants for studies relating to rail and the
feasibility of high-speed passenger rail and rural transit improvements;
and approval of contracts totaling more than $100 million.
      Oklahoma Department of Transportation Director Gary Ridley was
presented the Amtrak President’s Service and Safety Award for the Heartland
Flyer by Joy Smith, Chicago-based Central Division superintendent,
Passenger Services.
      ODOT and the Texas Department of Transportation received the award
for their partnership in operating Amtrak’s Heartland Flyer, which runs
from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas. Smith said that of all Amtrak’s
state partners, Texas and Oklahoma are the only two that work together to
support a single train.
      The President’s Award is the highest honor given by Amtrak. In the 31
years since the program began, this is the fifth time that a state
department of transportation has been recognized. Nominees undergo a
six-month review and must meet strict criteria.
       “The Heartland Flyer has been a tremendous success story,” Smith
said. “This year the Heartland Flyer had its highest ridership in 11 years
– over 81,000 passengers. Its customer service rating was the best of all
of our trains, including our high-speed train in New York City, called the
Acela.”
      Ridley announced ODOT has received a federal grant for track
improvements on the Heartland Flyer in Oklahoma City. ODOT also received
grants to improve rural transit, to study the feasibility of operating a
high-speed passenger rail system between Oklahoma City and Tulsa and to
update the state’s rail transportation plan.
      Commissioners approved a series of 17 engineering contracts for
planning and design work on 57 bridges throughout the state.
      They also awarded contracts for two projects on I-44. One contract
was for widening a section near 41st Street in Tulsa, and the second was
for resurfacing and installation of median cable barriers in Lawton. They
also approved contacts for reconstruction of I-35 near Marietta and I-40
east of Checotah.
      Also approved was a contract for construction of a Port of Entry
station on I-40 near Texas. The facility is the second of nine planned for
key locations along Oklahoma’s state lines designed for enforcement of
truck safety and weight regulations.
      In all, commissioners awarded 35 contracts totaling just under than
$103 million to improve highways, interstates and roads in 25 counties.
Projects include bridge and highway construction and reconstruction,
resurfacing and safety improvements.
      Contracts were awarded for projects in Beckham, Comanche, Craig,
Garfield, Garvin, Greer, Haskell, Kay, Kingfisher, Latimer, Logan, Love,
Major, McClain, McIntosh, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Osage,
Pontotoc, Sequoyah, Texas, Tillman and Tulsa counties.
      The eight-member panel, appointed by the governor to oversee the
state’s transportation development, awards project contracts for road and
bridge construction every month. The panel’s next meeting is scheduled for
11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 6, in the R.A. Ward Transportation Building in
Oklahoma City.
      Before a project is awarded, ODOT researches, plans and designs work
to be done. Contracts are bid competitively, with the OTC selecting the
winning firm. Typically, work begins several weeks or months after
contracts are awarded.
       Contracts, bid information, the commission’s monthly agenda and
project details can be viewed at www.okladot.state.ok.us.

Press Release - Oklahoma Department of Transportation
Media & Public Relations Division
200 N.E. 21st Street, Oklahoma City, OK  73105
Phone:  405-521-6000, Fax:  405-521-2524