AT A GLANCE:
YOUR TAX DOLLARS PAVED
• By statute, ODOT receives about 48% of state motor fuel tax revenue annually. 52% is allocated to other areas of state government, cities and counties.
• From 1985-2005, state highway funding was based almost entirely on fuel tax collections, which has remained stagnant at about $200 million annually for decades.
• By statute, the allocation to the ROADS fund is capped at $575 million annually.
• Administrative costs account for 2% of the total exepenses.
• State taxes (17 cents on gasoline and 14 cents on diesel) are assessed on each gallon of motor fuel purchased. The tax per gallon stays the same regardless of the price of gas.
BY THE MILES ...
• Maintains more than than 6,800 bridges
• Maintains more than 30,000 lane miles, or 12,265 centerline miles
• Oklahoma has 673 miles of non-tolled interstate, which accounts for only 5.5% of total centerline miles but carries more than 33% of all daily traffic miles traveled.
• Highway bridges that are more than 80 years old: 1,087
• Oklahoma’s system of highways and bridges is the state’s most valuable physical asset, valued at $60 billion.
OKLAHOMA CITY - Each and every day most of us drive down a local highway, cross a bridge or encounter low water crossings that are maintained by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
While we may get frustrated with construction or the apparent lack of upkeep on some of our roads, ODOT is tasked to maintain this infrastructure on tighter and tighter budgets each year.
In Oklahoma, we rely on our state highways.
While Oklahoma’s population ranks 28th in the nation and 20th in size, we rank 17th for the number of state highway miles. ODOT maintains over 30,000 lane miles that are used daily by farmers, truckers and citizens to move crops, goods, products and people across our state.
The revenue streams for ODOT are set by state and federal statutes. The state motor fuel tax - 17 cents per gallon of gas and 14 cents per gallon of diesel - is the largest source of funding, but ODOT receives just 48% of the motor fuel tax. This equates to roughly $200 million per year.
While that seems like quite a bit, keep this in mind: the state motor fuel tax was fixed at 17 cents and 14 cents in 1987 and revenues have remained stagnant.
That $200 million went quite a bit further in the early 1990s than it does in today’s economy. Considering Oklahoma’s motor fuel taxes are among the lowest in the nation, it’s no wonder why our roads and bridges in the mid-2000s were in such a state of disrepair.
Beginning in 2006, ODOT received direct state appropriations for capital improvements under the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) fund. While this has assisted in transforming our infrastructure immensely, cuts in 2016 and 2017 to this fund put many projects behind.
In FY2017 alone, $200 million was transferred from the ROADS fund and offset by bond proceeds to cover the state budget shortfall. The ROADS fund is capped at $575 million per fiscal year, which is expected to be surpassed in 2019.
Additional funding comes from the federal government but much of that is directed to county and city road maintenance, performed at the local level. To note, between 2010 and 2018, reductions to the state transportation fund have totaled $886.6 million, with large bonds issued that will strap the agency with long-term debt on interest payments to help cover the reduction in funding.
Despite funding cuts, progress continues to be made in ensuring our state’s roads and bridges are safe.
In 2004, of the 6,800 bridges maintained by ODOT, 1168 were considered structurally deficient. By 2016, this number was down to 251 with an additional 824 bridges slated for future replacement or repair.
While the ROADS fund drastically improved the funding for capital improvements in Oklahoma, ODOT has continued to tighten its belt year after year to ensure proper road maintenance.
Administrative costs represent just 2% of total expenses and the workforce has been reduced by almost 30% since 1990.
According to ODOT, “Other cost-saving measures due to budget cuts include reducing out-of-state travel, delaying the replacement of vehicles and equipment, delaying the purchase of new computers and software, leaving some vacant positions unfilled and delaying the replacement of outdated maintenance facilities.”
In addition, much of the pre-construction engineering required work is performed by the private sector, and all construction work is done by private-sector contractors after competitive bids on projects.
The mission of ODOT is to provide a safe, economical and effective transportation network for the people, commerce and communities of Oklahoma.
In its 2018 Update to the Fiscal and Organizational Strategy Report, ODOT believes there is as much as $10.5 billion in remaining necessary investments to bring the state highway system to adequate condition for safety and security.