OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Department of Transportation Commission approved its newest update for the $8.4 billion Eight-Year Construction Work plan to improve the safety and reliability of Oklahoma’s highway network.
ODOT is also putting focus on preventative measures for wrong-way drivers and finishing the construction at I-40 and Douglas in Midwest City.
“It will be disruptive again,” said Tim Gatz, the secretary of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
Gatz said when construction on I-40 in Del City wraps up, work to build a “single-point urban interchange,” like the intersection on Morgan Road, will begin. Gatz says it will move traffic effectively and efficiently.
“At the same time, we’re going to widen Interstate 40 to six lanes to connect to the work that we’ve completed out at Choctaw Road,” said Gatz.
The good news is, two lanes will stay open in each direction. But drivers should brace for ramp closures at different times.
Meanwhile on I-35, a total of 25 interchanges will get new signs and safety upgrades to alert drivers who may find themselves going the wrong way down the highway. Work is expected to start in 2023.
“At some point in the future, we want this technology to be able to send that alert to the troopers and say, ‘Hey, there’s somebody that potentially is going the wrong direction,’” said Gatz.
Another plan for ODOT is expanding narrow two-lane rural highways, specifically those without a shoulder.
Right now, Oklahoma has 5,000 miles of them. Gatz said they’re dangerous and deadly.
“Those are the types of highways where we see some of the most severe injury accidents and fatalities of any highway in the state, and that’s by rate,” said Gatz. “Somebody drops a wheel off of that edge and then over corrects sometimes into oncoming traffic, which can result in a horrific accident.”
Now that the commission gave the green light to the $8.4 billion plan, one commissioner wants to make sure the money is spent correctly.
“I’ve not seen a strategic plan. I think we need to adopt a strategic plan,” said Commissioner James Grimsley. “And it needs to be a long-term plan envisioned to get there. Otherwise we’re never going to catch up.”
ODOT also roiled out a new interactive map that allows user to easily find projects that affect them and the related information.