Mon, 19 Sep 2022 10:34:04 CDT
Water and sewage projects in Oklahoma City, including relocation of a water transmission main that supplies drinking water near Tinker Air Force Base, are among recommendations to receive American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds by the Oklahoma House and Senate Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding. The committee proposes spending $35 million for partnerships with municipalities, cities or tribes to coordinate on the projects.
The projects, along with others, will be considered when the Legislature reconvenes it's special session to appropriate ARPA funds.
"This necessary infrastructure investment is important to the multitude of people that call Oklahoma City and its surrounding communities home," said Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon. "It particularly impacts those living near the largest Air Force base in our state, which is a key economic driver and employs thousands of Oklahomans."
The portion of the project near Tinker became necessary after the city of Oklahoma City closed a two-mile section of Douglas Boulevard for base security. A portion of the water main is now inside the base security zone and must be rerouted. In the event of a break, security levels at the base would delay emergency response time, impacting public health, safety and water service to area residents.
Baker is co-chair of the Economic Development and Workforce Working Group that recommended the project to the joint committee, of which she also is a member.
Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, is vice chair of the House Appropriations & Budget Committee, a member of the joint committee and a lawmaker whose district includes parts of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. He said these water and sewage projects are necessary to protect public health and safety in the area.
"The Oklahoma City metropolitan area is the most populated area in our state," Martinez said. "In terms of total land area, we're considered the second largest capital city in the world. It only makes sense that we make use of this funding to strengthen our infrastructure for those who call this area home and those who visit or hope to relocate here, including members of our military."
The water and sewage projects are among the proposals to be considered when the Legislature reconvenes the Second Extraordinary Session of the 58th Oklahoma Legislature, which was called for the purpose of evaluating ARPA projects advanced by the joint committee.
The overall goal is to determine projects that will result in the greatest benefit to the state. The committee considered public input and took the recommendation of working groups to determine its final project list.
The new proposals are in addition to projects passed by the Legislature during special session held in June.