The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) is hoping that $4.2 million in funding will cut down on wrong way crashes. In an attempt to improve safety on the road and let drivers know if they are going the wrong way, ODOT is putting up new signage and lights for the project.
"Wrong-way crashes, they don’t happen as often as other types of crashes but when they do occur, the severity is almost always deadly," said Lisa Sherer-Salim, an ODOT spokeswoman.
Interstate 40 has had its fair share of crashes and even fatalities from vehicles going the wrong way. A little over a month ago, a wrong-way driver struck and killed an Oklahoma City police officer.
The first project is almost complete at the eastern corridor of I-40 while another project is in the works on northbound I-35 and the western corridor of I-40 was approved for improvements on Monday.
"Today’s project will install systems at ten key interchanges, but in total there will be improvements made to our striping, our signage, and pavement markers at forty-nine locations along the western I-40 corridor," Shearer-Salim said.
Adding camera systems will light up a warning if drivers enter a ramp in the wrong direction and new signs are internally lit so drivers have a better chance of seeing them.
"A lot of times, wrong-way drivers getting on the ramp the wrong way is not the first mistake they’re making. They may not have their lights on. Signage in general is reflective, so if you don’t have your headlights on you may not see the signage," Shearer-Salim said.
ODOT is also planning on updating the striping and having raised pavement markings that light up red if you’re going in the wrong direction.
The total amount awarded for the project was $8 million. It is expected to start at the beginning of next year.