The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) approved an $8.4 billion eight-year construction plan to update the state's highway network, and improve its safety and reliability.
ODOT is also finishing construction for I-40 and Douglas in Midwest City, and focusing on preventative measures for wrong-way drivers.
“It will be disruptive again,” said Tim Gatz, the secretary of ODOT.
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.
A total of 25 interchanges on I-35 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.
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.”
One commissioner wants to make sure the $8.4 billion is spent correctly.
“I’ve not seen a strategic plan. I think we need to adopt a strategic plan,” said ODOT 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 put out a new interactive map that allows user to easily find projects that affect them and the related information.