Oklahoma Department of Transportation – Statewide School Zone Improvement Program

In many communities in Oklahoma, a state or U.S. highway serves as the “Main Street” for many cities and towns – heavily used economic corridors that often double as the primary route to school. There are more than 450 school zones on the highway system in Oklahoma, serving about 330 school districts. Like changes to speed limits inside city limits, Oklahoma Department of Transportation and local governments jointly decide when to install and update school zone speed limits on those highways. The Oklahoma DOT prioritizes the need to upgrade school zones with new signage and flashing beacons at no cost to local school districts, primarily in smaller communities. Prior to 2020, communities were required to provide 20 percent matching funds for the improvements, which often delayed projects in financially strapped small towns. Through better use of federal funding and new processes, the department reduced what could be up to an 18 month-long wait to less than six months from start to finish after adding a school zone to a project list. This reduced the average cost per project from $25,000 to just more than $5,000, thus enabling the department to stretch the federal safety dollars and upgrade on average about 30 school zones per year – keeping children in the community safe.