Two area state lawmakers are calling on Oklahoma's U.S. Senators to undo the damage caused by a recent political fight in the nation's capital and return $30 million in federal highway money to Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma.
Senator Stratton Taylor and Senator Kevin Easley are urging their counterparts in Washington, DC to be better advocates for improved roads than Congressmen Steve Largent and Tom Coburn have been. The federal highway bill is now before the U.S. Senate.
"We don't want Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma to get caught in a Washington, DC political crossfire and lose their federal highway money. Our taxpayers sent that money up there and deserve to get their fair share back," said Senator Taylor.
In a letter to U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and Don Nickles, the two state lawmakers urged them to reinstate the $30 million in federal highway money initially earmarked for Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma. That money was lost when Congressman Largent and Coburn rejected it as part of a running battle with the U.S. House leadership. The funds were then earmarked for a project on I-40 in Oklahoma City.
"We're asking Senators Inhofe and Nickles to step up to the plate and do the right thing for northeastern Oklahoma. Road money is too important to be lost in a trivial political battle," said Senator Easley.
Taylor and Easley have urged Oklahoma to spend its federal road money to widen a dangerous, traffic-laden section of I-44 near Tulsa, instead of earmarking the bulk of the funding for the I-40 project in Oklahoma City. They have proposed expanding I-44 from four-lanes to six lanes at a point beginning at Catoosa and ending at the junction of I-244.
"We just feel that taxes paid by the residents of northeastern Oklahoma should be spent on projects that benefit them. Sending their highways funds to Oklahoma City to fix a road there isn't in their best interest, especially when this stretch of I-44 is crying out for attention," said Senator Taylor.
"If I-44 isn't expanded, we're going to have gridlock and more motorists needlessly facing risks that could cost lives. This is too important of a project to sacrifice to a political battle in Washington, DC," said Senator Easley.