Rogers County commissioners unanimously voted to endorse the 2014 OneVoice Legislative agenda during a regular meeting Monday. The endorsement was finalized after Tulsa Port of Catoosa Director Bob Portiss addressed commissioners about the list of priorities included in the agenda, that are sponsored by the Tulsa Regional Chamber.
He said task forces met Aug. 28 at the Regional Legislative Summit to vote on 20 of the most important legislative issues in the region, creating a comprehensive agenda built on the 10 items of highest priority. Twenty percent of the 20 items discussed directly relate to the Port of Catoosa.
“Our goal is to educate the public on the importance of our waterways and port,” said Portiss. “I am thrilled to see the results of the Aug. 28 meeting.”
He said, according to the task force members, one of the most important items included the addition of the Gilcrease Expressway, linking the Tulsa Port of Catoosa with the Turner Turnpike.
The proposed portion of the Gilcrease Expressway could be funded through the reauthorization of the Federal Surface Transportation Funding Act, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), passed by Congress and signed into law in 2012. MAP-21 funds highways and transit investments through FY2014 at current funding levels plus inflation.
“Volunteers, including myself, will head to Washington in April (2014) for federal support in these projects. Volunteers will also head to Oklahoma City after the first of the year toaddress the state for help.”
Portiss mentioned another construction project of a four-lane port road on Highway 266 from US-169 to the Port of Catoosa.
He said the road will not stop there, but will include a more efficient route for trucks from the Port of Catoosa to Interstate 44 and Will Rogers Turnpike.
A third item listed on the OneVoice agenda, is the ability for the Port of Catoosa to partner with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to fix potential problems for the district’s waterways, said Portiss.
“Today, the corp cannot legally accept money, labor or equipment from us, which is ludacrus. In the future, if one of the locks and dams should fail, whatever they would need, we could offer to help fix the problem,” Portiss said.
A proposed bill is currently being considered by the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) conference committee for better coordination between the Port of Catoosa and the corp of engineers, as well as, the ability to exchange land currently owned by the Army Corps of Engineers with land owned by the Port Authority.
The land exchange would allow operations to expand, providing an additional area for the port to park barges.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) was named to the WRDA conference on Nov. 5.