Traffic at a Pottawatomie Co. interstate exit has residents scared for their safety

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POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. - A stretch of highway that intersects with I-40 near Earlsboro has some residents worried for their safety everyday. Now they're hoping someone will make real change happen before someone is seriously injured or killed.

It's the stretch of Highway 9A that intersects with the interstate at the Earlsboro exit. A truck stop draws a steady stream of commercial traffic.

"I`ve never seen it when there`s not fuel being pumped out of those pumps," Dep. James Caskey with the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office said.

The trucks turning on and off of the highway often take up both lanes of the two-lane road, and force traffic with the right of way traveling at 55 mph to come to a screeching halt.

"It's a daily issue down here," said nearby resident Rick Streater. "I have multiple incidences down here every week where I have to pretty much come to a stop."

Streater said he wrecked his pickup truck in this location a year and a half ago when a semi pulled out in front of him. Another nearby resident shared photos of a serious accident his family member was in in the same location, this one with a personal vehicle.

"It`s bad when you have to explain to your children if one of these trucks pulls out in front of you and there`s nowhere for you to go, hit them in the axle so you don`t go under the trailer and it takes the whole top of the vehicle off and decapitates you," Streater said.

To make matters worse, Dep. Caskey said people frequently run the stop signs at the exit, and more often than not, speed down the highway.

He said he can recall at least five crashes there in the past two years, and he and local residents are hoping the Oklahoma Department of Safety will do a study of the intersection.

"See if we can come up with a more permanent solution to this," Caskey said, "maybe lowering the speeds, putting up flashing lights for large trucks coming in, or even widening the intersection itself and having turn lanes."

ODOT gets their crash numbers reported from local municipalities, including the police department, sheriff's department, and highway patrol. According tho their records, only one crash was reported in the past year, and it didn't involve a semi. An ODOT spokesperson said they don't see a need to do a study in that location right now. There are plans to add a "Trucks Entering" sign on Highway 9A and straighten some of the existing signs.

However, for everyday drivers like Streater, the frequent near-misses tell a different story.

"Is it going to take somebody dying down here before we really get something done?" Streater said.

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