In 1965, when the I-40 Crosstown Bridge was first built, the city's population was 320,000. Today, the population in Oklahoma City tops 580,000 with a metropolitan area population of more than 1.25 million. Yet, until today, Oklahomans were still using a bridge built for a much smaller capacity.
That's why the federal government provided $600 million to help the Oklahoma DOT expand this important corridor, relieve congestion, and improve access to downtown Oklahoma City. The former 6-lane road is now a 10-lane expressway with ground-level and partially submerged roadways that can carry 173,000 vehicles a day, significantly beyond the capacity of the old bridge.
Like earlier segments of the I-40 project in Oklahoma, the new roadway was completed months ahead of schedule. At a ribbon-cutting in Oklahoma City yesterday, FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, US Senator James Inhofe, Congressman James Lankford, and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett celebrated the new Expressway. Administrator Mendez congratulated O-DOT and Oklahoma for “setting an example for the nation.”
This project put people to work, made commuters safer, and improved an important interstate trucking route. It is another great example of why transportation investment is critical to our economy.
President Obama has been urging Congress to create jobs upgrading America's infrastructure. Endless emergency repairs plagued the old Oklahoma I-40 highway bridge before the President granted the funding for a complete overhaul. Now, hundreds of projects across the nation deserve the same time, attention and investment to bring our roads, rails, and runways up to speed; make our transportation system safer; and give our economy the boost it needs.
We at DOT understand that the American people can't wait, so we're committed to act.
As Administrator Mendez said in Oklahoma, “We’re not waiting for Congress. We have too much work to do and too many people waiting to roll up their sleeves and get started."
Oklahoma couldn't wait, and we know that other states can't wait for job-creating transportation improvements either. That’s why we released our TIGER grants in December, months ahead of schedule. And that’s why we’re calling upon Congress to put aside their differences and pass a long-term transportation jobs bill.
Given the opportunity, the State of Oklahoma took the ball and ran with it. As Administrator Mendez said, that's the kind of example this country needs.