Despite detours, ODOT says I-40 loop ‘will be back’
Since the beginning of the $42 million I-40/-64 interchange construction project in Sallisaw, questions have arisen about the amount of accidents which have taken place due to the amount of changes involved in traffic.
The project, which began in January is expected to be completed in early 2021, ODOT officials have said.
At its beginning, no lane closures were scheduled but drivers were warned to be alert to crews and equipment in the corridor.
ODOT officials have said the project will replace or rehabilitate ten bridges on I-40 from the US-64 interchange to just east of the US-59 junction (between MM308-311). Pavement will also be replaced in this nearly three-mile corridor, and ramps will be widened to improve merging points at the I-40/US-64 interchange.
Although numbers have not been provided yet by the Department of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, local rescue units have been called several times in the past months to accidents occurring at or near the construction zone.
One of the major changes in Sallisaw is the east bound loop which provides access to I-40 and is located on the right side of Cherokee Street immediately going through the underpass.
The I-40 access is now located on the left side of U.S. Highway 64 and drivers are forced to come to a complete stop before blending in with the I-40 eastbound traffic.
Kenna Mitchell, spokesperson for ODOT said the loop will be back.
“Traffic has just been temporarily moved off it during the construction project but the loop will be back,” Mitchell said.
“We just ask people to pay attention to their speed and slow down when coming to a construction zone,” Mitchell said.
“They need to also take all precautions and stay focused because there’s so much activity and changes taking place.”
Future lane closures will be announced as they are scheduled throughout the project. During construction, traffic has been narrowed to one lane in each direction on both I-40 and US-64. Drivers have been advised to use caution and expect slower traffic and delays, especially during peak travel times.
A request was made to OHP officials regarding the numbers of accidents which have occurred since construction began in January in comparison to a year ago. However, the department had not yet provided any information as of press time.
Your TIMES will include any further information about this subject when it becomes available.