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County must deal with millions in lost road funds

When Gov. Mary Fallin used her line-item veto power to reject most of what the Oklahoma Legislature passed during its eight-week special session, one of the things she did not veto was the part about taking another $80 million out of the County Improvements to Roads and Bridges (CIRB) fund, Western District Commissioner Don Hawthorne announced at the conclusion of the Comanche County Facilities Authority meeting on Monday.

That brings the total that will come out of the CIRB fund to $130 million because the Legislature had already authorized a $50 million sweep of that fund in the bill it passed during the last week of its regular session, Hawthorne said. The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a smoking cessation "fee" on cigarettes that was part of the bill, but the $50 million sweep remains intact.

Hawthorne said the full impact is not known, but "it appears that all of our projects after 2019 will be either removed or delayed, off our five-year plan."

Hawthorne said he will be able to replace the truss bridge on Airport Road and another bridge on Bishop Road, but he listed several projects in his district that will be bumped back because the CIRB fund was raided, including a truss bridge over Cache Creek west of Cache, a small bridge farther west on Rock Creek and a bridge near Faxon that needs to be replaced.

Eastern District Commissioner Gail Turner likewise listed several projects in his district that will be affected, the biggest being a longstanding effort to improve the north end of Trail Road.

"We've been working on it for about three years, and last year it got bumped another year. That road is getting more dangerous, and by the time it would have been done, it would have been taken care of in a timely manner," Turner said.

The Lawton Constitution

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