At the meeting, Secretary of Transportation and ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz announced the department’s driver safety education effort focusing on bicycle and pedestrian safety, which coincided with observance of National Bike Month. He noted that 49 cyclists and 370 pedestrians were killed on Oklahoma roads in the past five years and that bicyclist and pedestrian deaths have been increasing nationwide in the past decade. In addition to daily social media content promoting bicycle and pedestrian safety by ODOT, several activities for Bike Month, Bike to Work Week, and Bike to Work Day were planned by local governments and organizations statewide. Safety partners ODOT and OTA are bringing a year-round education and awareness campaign dubbed Make Safety Stick: Everybody Click to the public.
Gatz also highlighted the upcoming June celebration of the 50th anniversary of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in eastern Oklahoma, which was dedicated on June 5, 1971. In addition to special anniversary signage installed on highway and turnpike crossings over the river channel and weekly social media content, a celebration ceremony is planned in early June to commemorate the formal dedication of MKARNS by then-President Richard Nixon.
At the request of District 3 Commissioner T.W. Shannon, Gatz gave a detailed presentation on a planned project at I-35 and SH-9 West near Goldsby. While interchange improvements have been discussed since the first edition of ODOT’s Eight-Year Construction Work Plan in the early 2000s, McClain County has seen rapid population growth and economic development, bringing higher traffic volumes and more needs to be addressed. Rather than focusing only on addressing one traffic movement inside the interchange, the department is expanding the project to a more comprehensive fix that meets the traffic safety needs of the entire area. This will include consideration of several interchange design alternatives through a public involvement process, including commitments made to the Chickasaw Nation as a major stakeholder.
Commissioners approved a more than $7-million contract for SH-152/Airport Road widening and interim traffic improvements between the recently completed John Kilpatrick Turnpike southwest extension and Meridian Avenue near Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City and a nearly $5-million contract for bridge improvements at I-40 and US-266 near Warner. They also awarded contracts for several summer pavement improvements, including projects to resurface more than three miles of SH-66 in Sapulpa and nearly five miles of US-270 near Laverne.
Commissioners voted to award 24 contracts totaling nearly $56 million to improve highways, roads, and bridges in 32 counties. Contracts were awarded for projects in Beaver, Bryan, Caddo, Canadian, Cherokee, Coal, Cotton, Craig, Creek, Beckham, Blaine, Custer, Harmon, Jackson, Garvin, Harper, Hughes, Jefferson, McIntosh, Murray Muskogee, Noble, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Seminole, Sequoyah, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, and Washita counties.