There are many things that the traveling public takes for granted. Transportation infrastructure is one of them. We want our highways safe and wide. Construction is an inconvenience we tolerate in hopes of getting a better, quicker ride.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation took note of its 100th birthday this week. Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders took note of the event. The state agency was organized just four years after statehood when cattle trails and navigable rivers were the closest thing Oklahoma had to interstates.
Back then, passenger trains were the most dependable forms of transportation. Getting to a depot was often problematic. ODOT today is responsible for more than 30,000 lane miles of highway, 6,800 bridges and nearly 800 miles of freight rail, along with the Heartland Flyer’s daily passenger rail service from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth and back.
A time capsule was buried Wednesday and will be unearthed in 2061. It includes the names of ODOT workers and their signatures. Sadly, an ODOT inspector died Tuesday after suffering injuries at the Interstate 40 and Interstate 35 interchange Monday. Department flags for the centennial were at half staff in his memory.
The centennial event included the presentation of a plaque commemorating the department’s creation and special recognition for families in which multiple generations have worked for ODOT. A coffee table-style book detailing ODOT’s history can be ordered from the department’s website.