THE VILLAGE, Okla. – Five months into a major construction project, people who regularly drive on Britton Road are losing their patience.
The $4 million dollar project to rebuild the stretch of road between Penn and May began in January and isn’t slated to be finished until November. The busy throughway is narrowed down to a one way, one lane street, that single lane enduring about 20,000 vehicles each day.
“You can’t get to and from work, you don’t even want to go out,” said nearby resident Mike Callaway. “It’s such a hassle going around the neighborhood to get in here.”
Drivers are growing more and more frustrated as they watch deep pot holes and ditches piling up wreak havoc on their cars.
“It seems like they keep coming, and then they’re fixing them, and then they happen again,” said resident Victoria Ford.
Because 80% of the funding is federal dollars, ODOT oversees the project. They contracted Crossland Heavy Contractors Incorporated to do the work, and an ODOT spokesperson said it’s up to that company to keep the road drivable and repair any damage to the right of way. But The Village city manager, Bruce Stone, says they’ve been doing their best to help in response to complaints coming in from residents. He said they communicate any problem areas they’re told about to the construction crews on Britton on a daily basis so they can be addressed as soon as possible, but heavy rains have been washing much of the filling out.
An ODOT spokesperson, Lisa Shearer-Salim said the project was temporarily slowed by weather and an unexpected utility line that ran through the area.
“A lot of the problems are caused because they had several places where they had to lower water lines and they had to cut across the street,” Stone said, “so you’ve got numerous spots where they cut the street.”
Neighbors said ditches created by those cuts are to blame for damage on their cars.
“They make little paths, but they’re not good,” said resident Kori Gouldsby. “I ripped the bottom of my car off going over because you have to go over it and, yeah, it’s been bad.”
Lately, tire tracks are showing up on lawns where drivers are evidently bypassing the road altogether.
Leo Colmenares lives on Britton and said driving over onto his lawn is sometimes necessary just to safely park his car.
“Just coming into the driveway, you can’t really open up to it,” Colmenares said, “so it is what it is.”
Now to top it all off, neighbors are noticing other road projects starting in the neighborhoods surrounding Britton. Stone said these are projects funded with bond issue that was passed January 2018. The work was scheduled to begin last fall, but had to be put on hold for weather, and now unfortunately coincides with ODOT’s work. He said crews are expected to start laying down asphalt on Wednesday.
“We didn’t really have any control over when ODOT started Britton Road,” Stone said, “so that kind of happened after we already awarded contracts for these projects.”
Even though work was delayed, Shearer-Salim said with the good weather, the construction should still be complete by the end of fall. Construction is scheduled to switch to the westbound side of Britton in July.
In the meantime, officials are reminding drivers to stay at the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit to keep the area safe, and mitigate damage to their vehicles.
“It’s a nuisance, we know that, and it’s a big headache for the residents who live there, the businesses especially have been hit hard,” Stone said, “so the sooner we can get this project done, the better.”