The Norman Transcript

Opinion

February 23, 2014

A realistic plan to get ODOTmore funding

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

As HL Mencken opined, people often, when faced with a complex, controversial and difficult problem, develop an easy, simple and wrong answer.  Hoping to avoid the ‘wrong’ part of Mencken’s admonition, let me suggest the following to fix our roads and bridges permanently, more quickly, and WITHOUT an increase in gasoline or diesel fuel assessments.

The only real answer to our ever-crumbling infrastructure system, most recently highlighted by the closure of the James C. Nance bridge between Lexington and Purcell, is to provide Oklahoma’s Department of Transportation with dramatically more financial assets — hard dollars. The question is, how, without a fuel tax increase?

Here’s how. 

The governor and legislature must address the fact that the severance tax on oil and gas will go up from the current one percent to seven percent not later than 2015 automatically if our solons do nothing. 

Therefore, they will do something. I suggest, as our leaders grapple with this complex issue, they should earmark one percent of whatever percent increase agreed upon, to ODOT, which will more than double the resources available to this well-led but perennially underfunded agency. One percent of severance equals about $850 million, and although that sounds like a lot of money, and is, a new Lexington-Purcell bridge alone will cost at least $45 million ... and there are currently over 600 deficient bridges statewide.  

Even with this small severance tax increase, Oklahoma will remain, by far, the most attractive place to drill for oil and gas in the entire country since we would still have the lowest severance tax. 

Energy truck drivers, as well as the general public, deserve a safe, efficient arterial network of roads and bridges. Such a new and improved system will enhance economic development in all 77 counties and will be financed  by a long-lived but finite resource. And, since the majority of the oil and gas produced in Oklahoma is consumed in other states, those individuals and companies so located will pay for much of our new road and bridge enhancements. 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Change some lines

    Editor, The Transcript: Looking at how our elected Republican friends are reacting to the refugee children crossing the border and now being housed in Lawton, I have a suggestion. Let’s edit the Christian Bible in several places to reflect ...

    July 21, 2014

  • New health care system demonized

    To the Editor: In October 2013, soon after we were asked to take over management responsibilities at our family business, we were visited by the company’s health insurance agent. She explained that a decision needed to be made regarding ...

    July 21, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • The longer the wait, the higher the cost

    Editor, The Transcript: Thanks for the great article of July 3 on the Norman chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby group that recently went to D.C. as citizen lobbyists, working to get a revenue-neutral carbon pollution fee, refunded in ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014