Transcript Staff Writer

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., secured $14 million for Norman-area road improvements and another $12 million for University of Oklahoma research in legislation passed Friday by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Safe, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users includes $286.4 billion for federal highway and road safety projects over the next four years. The Senate is expected to pass the legislation and send it on to President Bush.

If passed, Norman's share includes $10 million for a grade separation on Robinson Street from Flood Avenue to Stubbeman Avenue, $4 million to reconstruct the Interstate 35-Highway 9 interchange in far north McClain County and $12 million for OU research on global tracking of cargo goods.

"These funds will help alleviate safety and traffic impediments for the Norman community," Cole said. "I am very pleased that these funds will be sufficient to complete the grade separation on Robinson Street in order to prevent railroad traffic from blocking vehicles (and congesting) west and eastbound traffic flows in Norman."

Cole credited U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., for getting Oklahoma a bigger slice of the federal pie in House-Senate conference committee discussions. The legislation would raise Oklahoma's rate of 90.5 cents for every dollar the state pays in gasoline tax to 92 cents by the 2008 fiscal year.

Oklahoma roads and bridges stand to receive $2.8 billion of the bill's funds.

Inhofe said every $1 billion of federal money for highways creates 47,500 jobs, $500 million in new manufacturing and another $500 million for other economic sectors.

"A safe and effective transportation infrastructure will only help grow our economy," the senator said. "I'm delighted we're on the verge of delivering this important victory to Oklahomans and all Americans."

James S. Tyree 366-3539 jtyree@normantranscript.com

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