Monday, April 5, 2010

Example of Problem Created by Federal Influence

Recent legislative votes have indicated that a strong and bi-partisan majority of Oklahoma legislators are adamantly opposed to greater efforts by the federal government to inject itself into the lives of Oklahomans, with specific opposition to the efforts of Congress to expand federal influence over the health care industry.

I believe these legislators have seen firsthand how no one wins when federal officials are put in charge of making decisions about how Oklahomans live their lives. The federal government is far removed from the people and all too often governs with a one-size-fits-all approach which all too often creates unintended consequences.

An example of this is the recent repavement of Broadway Road. A few years ago, Logan County officials received funding for repaving Broadway in part because it experiences an extremely heavy traffic count (sometimes nearing 6,000 per day) which has been wearing away the road surface. This road is one of the busiest in Logan County and serves as a major traffic corridor for those traveling back and forth from Oklahoma and Logan Counties. In fact, there is significantly more traffic on Broadway, a county maintained road, than the closest state highway. The road also provides a corridor for heavy construction traffic in this rapidly growing area. All of this traffic has understandably had the effect of wearing away the road surface.

However, as the project was getting underway, state officials discovered that because of federal red tape, the county would not be allowed to use this money to pave the road where the heaviest traffic is located.

A federal rule requires that a road this busy cannot be paved with federal funds unless it is widened and shoulder space is added. However, the amount of funding does not come close to allowing these types of improvements to occur. This means that it was required that the road be repaved farther to the north where the widening is not necessary and the need for repaving is not nearly as strong. Because of this federal rule, the most needy part of the road could not be fixed, while the part of the road that was not so needy received a very nice repaving job. Logan County officials must now find a way to fund the heavily traveled part of the road with other funding sources.

I am sure that the federal officials who implemented the rule that funding could not be used unless the road received significant upgrades did so with the best intentions. However, this across-the-board policy has resulted in an environment where the most used stretch of road still lacks the necessary upgrades, is badly needing to be repaved and has yet to be properly funded. And because it took several years for the government to tell local officials of this requirement, a lot of time has been wasted which could have been used to secure additional funding.

Since the federal government is so far removed from the voice of the people, there is little you or I can do to reverse this policy. I don't believe this the form of government we want interfering in other important issues such as health care.

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