Federal gas tax uncertainty affects Oklahoma construction projects
OKLAHOMA CITY — In car lots across Oklahoma, shoppers are looking for cars that can go far on little gas.With recent gas prices soaring, people are driving less, and buying cars that use less fuel.It's a big point for those selling cars:"We think about fuel economy a little bit too, we want it to be a fun ownership experience," said a representative from Kelley Blue Book. "The less you're spending at the gas pump, the more you're going to enjoy it, the Mazda 3 gets 40 miles per gallon on the freeway."But fuel economy is tanking construction projects in Oklahoma."We've been in a state of crisis," said ODOT spokesperson Terri Angier.The federal gas tax is a major source of funds for construction projects, and is set to run out as soon as August 29th.Without that money, the state can't begin new projects and is left with questions over current projects."The uncertainty is what's worse," said Angier. "The fund is shrinking and construction costs and labor costs and going up. That's one thing. But the fact that we don't know from year to year from month to month if the federal funds are going to come in on time."Oklahoma also levies a tax on gas to pay for roads. At 17 cents, it's the 46th lowest in the country. The federal tax is 18 cents.With fuel efficiency a top priority for agencies like the E-P-A, Angier says the problem is only going to get worse."On a year like this, when we don't know in three weeks what's going to happen, it makes it very difficult," said Angier.