Rep. Shannon: Transportation spending pays off in lives saved
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Published: 27-Dec-2010

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 27-Dec-2010

Oklahoma Department of Transportation figures show that traffic fatalities are falling prove the effectiveness of recent transportation investments, state Rep. T.W. Shannon said last week.

In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, the Lawton Republican commented: “We have been working hard at the Legislature to fund road and bridge projects, so you can imagine how it makes me feel to learn that our efforts may be contributing to fewer lives lost.”

Shannon, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, said, “I plan to highlight these statistics in budget discussions this year to ensure that transportation projects continue to be a priority.”

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation maintains a database on transportation statistics in the state. One of the items tracked on a monthly basis is accident and fatality statistics. The total number of fatalities on non-turnpike highways is down from 433 in 2009 to 311 this year (as of the end of November). Fatalities were as high as 488 in 2006.

The number of fatalities resulting from crossover accidents in non-turnpike, divided highways is down from 13 in 2009 to five for 2010. The number was 39 in 2007.

“We began prioritizing highway, bridge and road projects in 2006 and I believe we are seeing the results of making them a priority,” Shannon said. “The Department of Transportation uses these accident and fatality statistics to determine what projects take priority. I cannot think of a better use of taxpayer dollars than ensuring citizens’ safety while on the road.”

David McCorkle I, CEO of a trucking company based in Oklahoma, said that roads and bridges are a crucial economic investment as well.

“As Oklahoma improves its roads and bridges, I believe they will see more investment from trucking and other transportation industries,” McCorkle said. “Highways are how goods are moved in this country and the better shape they are in, the more companies want to use them.”

In October, Rep. Shannon touted the shift in bridge improvements, commenting, “We are fixing bridges at a rate that is exponentially greater than anything ever imagined in the past. That fact alone is one of the most significant public safety victories achieved at the Oklahoma Capitol in recent memory.”

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