UPDATED: Comanche County roads to get "free" upgrade

COMANCHE COUNTY, Okla_Your bumpy ride along some of Comanche County's busiest roads will soon be a thing of the past.

It's always a challenge for county commissioners to find money to keep up with repairs, but his morning, they found a way, and it won't cost taxpayers a dime.

They plan to use the hospital fund. That's the money Comanche County Memorial Hospital used to pay the county for the land it sits on and it equals about $430,000. That money was never designated for any particular purpose. It will be put to work to repair several thoroughfares, including west 82nd Street.

It is one of the busiest roads in the county. It cost over a million dollars when it was built but Commissioner Don Hawthorne said years of wear and tear have damaged the road.

"That gets a lot of traffic into the industrial part and also a lot of traffic in Southwest Comanche County and Southwest Oklahoma coming into Lawton."

He said the county needs to protect its investment and make repairs as soon as possible. But finding money to do that presented a problem. They couldn't rely on gasoline taxes from the Oklahoma Tax Commission, because that rate hasn't increased in years and other costs have.

"The cost of fuel has gone up, everybody is aware of that. The cost of machinery is up tremendously, labor costs. As the cost has gone up, our amount of funds that we get from the highway money has stayed the same. It really stretches us to try and maintain the roads."

Commissioners Turner and Hawthorne say they exhausted all options before deciding on using the hospital fund to help pay for county roads like 82nd Street. They say they even looked at getting funding based on the amount of fatalities on any given road.

"The roads on these major roads, luckily we haven't had the fatality count that qualifies for some counties to qualify for state funding. So then we had to look inside our county to figure out some funding mechanism that we could come up with."

The commissioners say they're pleased with their decision to use money readily available to give drivers what they want: a smooth ride.

"This was an opportunity that we felt we need to take advantage of and the need was there and it is a great need that we have."

The commissioner's say once that money has been taken from the hospital fund, the fund will be phased out of their budget. They also say that their decision will have no affect on tax payers.

The commissioners say the money will be used towards several projects in the county: including, 82nd street from Coombs to Highway 36 will be repaired and Whitfield road, which is just outside of Sterling.