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$50 million was approved for the Tulsa levee project

With the governor’s blessing, a levee system that was pushed almost to breaking point five years ago is now being repaired.

House Bill 2890 allocates $50 million in state money to repair the Arkansas River levees in Oklahoma’s second largest city.

“There are a lot of great things we do at the Capitol, but very rarely do we get to do something that we really know will save lives and protect our investment for the future,” said Representative Lonnie Sims, who presented the House of Representatives bill.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill Friday, almost exactly five years after the Arkansas River flooded dozens of homes and tested the levee system’s strength.

The United States Corps of Engineers called the levee system “very high risk” in a post-flood assessment.

According to a press release from the House of Representatives, the levee system protects approximately 10,000 people and more than $2 billion in assets.

In all, more than $187 million in state and federal money will go toward the levee system, which protects west Tulsa and Sand Springs.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said U.S. Senators Markwayne Mullin and James Lankford helped secure funding for the project. Representative Kyle Hilbert said former Sen. Jim Inhofe also helped secure the money before he retired.

“That’s what this project is. It’s the state coming together, it’s our federal partners, it’s our local counties and our county commissioners. Everyone is coming together to solve this,” Stitt said.

Sen. Cody Rogers said the bill was brought before the Legislature six times before it passed this session

“The people who live behind this levee are some of the lowest income people in Tulsa,” he said. “They don’t really have. This levee will protect them and (hopefully) drive economic development to west Tulsa.”

Hilbert called the bill “a huge win” for the Tulsa area and the state.

“Whether it’s in five years or 25 years, those levees will be tested and lives will be saved, property will be saved,” he said.