ODOT working on solutions for I-35 traffic troubles near turnpikes, NE 122nd in OKC

OKLAHOMA CITY - If you take I-35 southbound near the turnpikes and travel plaza at Northeast 122nd in Oklahoma City, you know it can often be a stressful stretch of road.

With vehicles, mostly trucks, exiting the turnpike and crossing lanes to fuel up or take a break, it's certainly a problem.

But, help is on the way.

"I drive that stretch myself and I see the problem, and when they call they're looking for solutions," said ODOT Spokesperson Terri Angier. "Is there something you guys can do? Are there plans?"

Angier is one of the 83,000 folks who travel that southbound stretch of I-35 daily.

An estimated additional 35,000 take the Turner Turnpike, where there's not an opportunity to easily reach a gas station for quite some time before you get to I-35 and Northeast 122nd.

There - it's a very short merge area.

"If they're not familiar with the area they may think they really need to move over to the right, unless they need to get to 122nd, that's a dedicated lane and they can stay in that," Angier said.

Right now, ODOT is working on finding a permanent solution for the exit from the Turner Turnpike to those southbound lanes.

One detail is confirmed - they will expand those southbound lanes of I-35.

But designers are faced with quite the challenge for the rest.

"Because that's grade-separated - meaning there's a bridge and roadway under it, it's really difficult to try and make it a right turn lane," Angier said.

That project is slated for 2026.

In the meantime, they're working with the city and the turnpike authority to put up signs along the Turner Turnpike encouraging drivers to take the Sooner Rd. exit to get to NE 122nd.

"Which is an extremely safe option," Angier said. "And we have no reason to believe they won't take advantage of that."

ODOT is hoping those signs will be put up in the next few months.

They've already set aside $3 million for the big project, but it will cost much more.

Truck traffic is expected to grow by about 50% in Oklahoma over the next 30 years.

ODOT officials say they don't want to discourage that, they want to accommodate it.

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