Oklahoma highway sign causes controversy

OKLAHOMA - It’s a road construction digital sign sitting along the side of Highway 66 just east of Luther.

The message flashing across reads 'Sorry, this project has been delayed due to state budget deficit.'

The $4 million project is supposed to resurface and add shoulders to SH-66 from just east of Dobbs Road to just east of the Lincoln County line as well as replace a structurally deficient bridge.

But, it’s one of 23 projects across the state that ODOT put on hold, not knowing whether they’ll have the money to pay for them.

“He was really close to starting that project. We were within days of that,” said ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson.

But, Patterson said ODOT is not responsible for that sign.

The contractor awarded the project, Haskell Lemon, put that up.

But, he said his agency has fielded lots of questions about it.

“The question is, ODOT, why did you go out there and put that wording out? You know, because it’s embarrassing to some people. It’s embarrassing to us. It’s embarrassing potentially to legislators who are trying to make a decision,” Patterson said.

Residents in the Luther area are not too disappointed they won’t have to deal with construction, but they’re still not happy with the overall message conveyed in the sign.

“I’m not happy about the budget failure but, as far as what the road could do, you know, you go out, and you vote and you’re done,” said Wally Coon.

“It’s frustrating. It really is. But, I really think that some things that they can pay for, they don’t need to be paying for,” said Murial Kincaid.

Patterson said he has not asked Haskell Lemon to take the sign down but has let the company know his concerns.

It’s just another sign of the growing frustration in our state over the gaping budget hole.

“It’s one of those situations - you’re in a hole. You’ve got to stop digging at some point. And, we’re just going to suspend these for a little bit until we see what the legislature works out,” Patterson said.

We reached out to Haskell Lemon for a comment but did not receive a call back.