CEDAR VALLEY, Okla. (KFOR) – An up and coming community claims they have a problem. A highly traveled highway is causing concern, with drivers cutting through town way too fast according to locals.
It’s a hidden gem of sorts just north of the metro.
Cedar Valley is small, due west of Guthrie, centered around golf courses.
“It’s continued to grow,” said Stan Wieczorek, who’s lived in town for decades. “We have several businesses, the largest being golf of course.”
With a population close to 500, Cedar Valley has nearly doubled in 20 years.
But folks who live there say a troubling trend is catching on.
“I think that traffic has increased tremendously out here,” said Jayne Hill, local resident.
The problem is a six mile stretch of Highway 33, basically between just inside Guthrie and Highway 74.
Cedar Valley is an oddly built town that splits in half and straddles the highway, with a 65 mile per hour speed limit cutting through the community.
In looking through our archives, we found KFOR has covered a handful of accidents on the road, including at least two fatalities.
According to DPS, there have been 89 crashes total between September 2014-2021, with nine deaths reported.
Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow shared similar statistics, and expressed his concerns at a fatal wreck just this February.
“This stretch of 33, for whatever reason, even though it’s a wide open roadway, we run a lot of serious crashes out here every year,” the fire chief explained at the time.
As a result, neighbors have come together hoping to change the speed limit from 65 to 50 MPH.
They call themselves “1.8 Minutes OK”, the time they say the lower speed would add to a commute.
“I’m sure speed is the problem,” said Kathy Sikes. “Physics, simple science tells me speed is a problem.”
The stretch of road has also caught the eye of the state.
“We agree wholeheartedly with the residents in this area that we need to do something,” said Lisa Shearer-Salim with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT).
ODOT officials have been working on a fix since 2016. They tell News 4 they’re not as certain that speed is to blame.
“There’s growth in the area. We’re seeing people do some inattentive things,” said Lisa. “That seems to be the greater cause of collisions just anecdotally.”
The state has instead installed several other safety measures, including oversized stop signs, LED flashing lights on stop signs, advisory warning signs and centerline rumble strips.
“We have done several things,” Lisa noted. “We’re continuing to do some more because we agree that this is becoming a problem area.”
But the speed limit remains, as ODOT continues to pour through collision data to find if speed truly is the culprit.
ODOT has ordered a study be done on the roadway. They hope to have the results later this year.
While appreciative of ODOT’s efforts, Cedar Valley folks tell News 4 they believe slowing traffic through town is a must.
They hope the state agrees before the alarming collision numbers grow.
“Just lowering the speed limit isn’t going to solve our problem,” said Jayne. “But with what ODOT is doing, trying to fix those other features plus lowering the speed limit, it will really help.”