Wednesday, December 27, 2017

OK freight plan gets federal nod

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A stack train is shown at Claremore, Okla. A stack train is shown at Claremore, Okla. Wikipedia

Calling freight movement “vitally important” to Oklahoma’s and the nation’s economy, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said it received federal approval for its five-year Freight Transportation Plan, to accommodate expected increases in the 800 million tons of freight valued at $1.3 billion that move through the state via rail, truck and waterway each year. The approved plan details freight trends and traffic forecasts to identify significant freight transportation projects needed in the state that will help develop partnerships and target economic growth across all modes of transportation. The state said about 58% of all freight in Oklahoma is transported by truck and 41% by rail.

The plan was developed with assistance from Oklahoma’s Freight Advisory Committee, which was made up of representatives from federal, state and local government agencies, tribal governments, railroad, trucking and waterway operators and numerous private sector companies operating in Oklahoma. Public meetings were presented in the state in the summer of 2017 and public comments were taken in the fall to gather initial input. These comments were incorporated into the plan and presented to the Federal Highway Administration.

"With an expected growth of 45% in trucking over the next 30 years, it's important to examine our transportation corridors, take advantage of the funding available and improve our system to lend infrastructure support to a thriving economy," ODOT Director of Capital Programs Dawn Sullivan said. “ODOT is already targeting major highway corridor improvements through the Eight-year Construction Work Plan and continuing to support our partners in rail and waterway transportation.”

Nearly 80 million tons of product with a final destination in Oklahoma arrived in the state in 2015, while more than 500 million tons of freight passed through the state on its way to another destination. Oklahoma’s major corridors and central location make its transportation system a critical link in the regional and national infrastructure system, with highways, railroads and waterways connecting to other states.

The five-year freight plan considers various freight modes including rail, highway and waterways. While ODOT has always planned for freight transport when considering transportation projects, this is the first organized planning effort focused solely on the issues of freight and goods movement.

The department developed a freight plan with identified projects in line with the federal Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST) of 2015. The specific corridor projects were selected from the department's Eight-year Construction Work Plan and are based on many factors, including how a project's completion would improve reliability and reduce delays in moving freight. While the FAST Act does not provide additional funding, it designates a portion of existing federal funding specifically for freight improvements. An example of an upcoming freight improvement project in the Eight-year Plan is the nearly $26 million reconstruction of the I-40 interchange at US-64 in Sallisaw in Federal Fiscal Year 2018.

The Oklahoma Freight Transportation Plan is available online at www.okstatefreightplan.com.

 

 

 

 

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