Last week, the following meme of Kevin Stitt self-lampooning himself at a press conference made the rounds on Twitter:
— Brian Ted Jones (@briantedjones) August 13, 2020
Wow. How embarrassing! They forgot to put the ‘4’ in front of the ‘9’. Awkward! Someone from ODOT is never going to live that one down!
Actually, it looks like the #9 was very intentional. The photo was taken at a press event where Kevin Stitt was celebrating Oklahoma’s official status as a Top 10 State for Bridge Safety – a sentence that Grammarly just flagged as “impossible.”
Here’s the official press release:
Governor Kevin Stitt and Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz today announced Oklahoma has achieved Top Ten status in bridge conditions for the first time by ranking ninth according the latest data from the Federal Highway Administration.
For years, Oklahoma was ranked near the bottom in national bridge conditions, including as low as 49th in 2004, due to the number of structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system.
“Top Ten isn’t just a slogan — it is the vision that helps form and guide our road map to improving state government and changing the future of all 4 million Oklahomans for the better,” said Gov. Stitt. “Transportation is the backbone of the economy, and this designation shows Oklahoma is a new national leader in highway bridge infrastructure thanks to the dedication of ODOT employees and an unprecedented investment in our bridges by the Legislature.”
That’s cool and everything, but shouldn’t we save the highway signs for when we are actually #1 at something? You know, like teenage pregnancy. We’re coming at you Mississippi!
Also, it’s not like Stitt had a lot to do with the improvement of our bridges. Because good bridges also benefit Oil Overlords and our Ruling Class, it’s something our state’s been slowly addressing for over a decade:
ODOT embarked on a massive effort in 2005 to improve highway bridges after decades of underfunding to transportation infrastructure took a toll, causing a backlog of critically needed projects. A targeted approach to fixing bridges began taking shape through a series of legislative funding mechanisms and identifying key funding opportunities by the congressional delegation.
“This overhaul on our highway bridges took more than 15 years and has only been possible thanks to the consistent vision and support of our governors, legislators and congressional delegates,” said Sec. Gatz. “We also have to thank Oklahomans for making transportation a priority, as this issue rose to the top of state needs due to significant citizen support. This unprecedented program was only possible with a united focus on Oklahoma’s future.”
You have to wonder why Kevin Stitt didn’t invite some of those old governors to the ceremony. Where was Mary Fallin? I know Sturgis was happening, but she could have at least rode around on her motor-trike and pulled donuts in the parking lot. She was very instrumental in the success of the bridge improvement program, and should get her proper due! Then again, if Bob Stoops can claim a national title with John Blake’s (RIP) players, maybe it’s okay for Kevin Stitt to declare victory for Mary Fallin’s accomplishments.
Anyway, this news is kind of bittersweet. We’ve had a lot of fun at our roads and bridges expense and expenses over the years. Remember the old Crosstown of Terror the cut to the south of OKC? That thing was scary as hell. Then again, they replaced that dangerous bridge with an equally, if not more dangerous, Boulevard of Fear. Maybe that explains why Oklahoma shot up on the bridge safety rankings, but not roads? Either way, I’ll miss making fun of our shitty bridges on this site. Thank God for teen pregnancy.