U.S. Department of Transportation announces millions of dollars for two Oklahoma Highway projects


Passengers traveling across the Texas/Oklahoma border on I-35. (Gaylord News/Will Blessing.)

WASHINGTON — The United States Department of Transportation announced over $100 million in awards to two Oklahoma projects under the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program.

The two projects listed as potentially receiving grants are the I-40 widening and Douglas Boulevard Interchange near Midwest City and the I-35 Red River Bridge project.

The Oklahoma Republican delegation has voiced their support for both of the projects. Senator Jim Inhofe of Tulsa said he especially was pleased to see funding for the two projects.

“This funding will go towards reconstructing, widening and improving two extremely important highways in Oklahoma: I-40 and I-35, supporting jobs, driving economic growth, and increasing safety for the traveling public,” said the Tulsa Republican. 

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is projected to receive $50.25 million for the I-40 interchange project, while the Texas Department of Transportation is to receive $50 million for the Red River bridge project. 

Congressman Tom Cole of Moore, who has submitted funding requests targeted at Red River Bridge project as part of the House surface transportation bill, applauded the decisions.

“In the years ahead, I look forward to seeing the incredible statewide benefits of DOT’s generous $100 million investment in these key projects,” said Cole.

 According to the U.S Department of Transportation the I-40 will widen approximately 6.3 miles of I-40 near Tinker Air Force Base between Industrial Boulevard and the I-240 interchange.

“This will provide access improvements to Tinker Air Force Base and the cities of Oklahoma City, Midwest City, and Del City, as well as accommodate traffic flow throughout the metropolitan area, state, and nation,” according to a 2016 Oklahoma Department of Transportation application.

Both Reps. Markwayne Mullin and Kevin Hern welcomed the I-40 funding.

“If you’ve driven on I-40 lately, you know this is long overdue,” said Hern. “Roads are a critical piece of our society. These kinds of projects are what most Americans think of when you talk about ‘infrastructure’,” said Hern.

Mullin added that “Investing in these two major highways will spur economic growth, increase public safety, and make Tinker Air Force Base more accessible.” 

The Texas Department of Transportation is slated to receive $50 million in funding for the Red River project. The project would improve 7.4 miles of Interstate 35 across Texas, Oklahoma, and the Chickasaw Nation. 

The Chickasaw Nation’s Winstar World Casino, a popular venue for residents of both states, sits in Thackerville just inside the Oklahoma state line. 

According to the DOT, the money would go towards widening the Interstate, flattening curves, and constructing wider and higher bridges across the river, which would improve safety in an area known for its high-speed curves.

“Accident reduction benefits result from reducing the curvature of the roadway in three major locations, adding a new lane in each direction, and adding lighting to the corridor,” said the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The project would also reduce travel time on the corridor. In addition to passenger traffic in the area, it’s known for being a heavily-traveled freight route. 

“The I-35 corridor is more than an interstate highway — it is freight’s ‘Main Street USA”’, according to the application. “It is one of the primary freight and passenger vehicle corridors in the nation, facilitating national and international freight movement, as well as the primary artery serving commuters in major metropolitan cities.” 

Gaylord News is a Washington-based reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.