ODOT chooses alternate SH 82 route

Amie Remer

Special to Your TIMES

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has announced the preferred alternative routes that have been chosen for construction on both SH 10A and SH 82, and that they'll now be moving forward with preliminary design and environmental studies.

Highway 10A 

ODOT hosted an open house in January at the Gore Community Building to explain the purpose and need for improvements along SH-10A, near Paradise Hill. 

In cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration, they proposed improvements from the SH-10 junction extending east to the SH-100 junction in Muskogee and Sequoyah County.

After hiring a consultant to study alternative routes and introducing seven to be considered, ODOT announced last week they'd chosen Alternative 2 as the preferred route.

According to a previous ODOT press release, the existing section of highway has substantial horizontal and vertical sharp curves, steep slopes and no paved shoulders, which all contribute to an accident history about three times the statewide average.

Although ODOT reported that half of public comment supported Alternative 1A as the route of choice,  23 percent of comments were against any improvements at all.

Alternative 2 was outlined as: (West Offset) Utilizes Alternative 1A, with the exception of a realignment to the west of existing SH-10A for about 1.3 miles between section lines NS444 and NS445 (example: Orchard Road).

Improvements include correcting roadway deficiencies and enhancing safety, and efficiently accommodating traffic on the highway, which is slated for construction in  2021. 

ODOT felt that Alternative 1A would not provide improvement in these areas, so based on evaluation and comparison and comments received at a stakeholder meeting in October, they selected Alternative 2 as the preferred route. 

According to studies, advantages are that it provides continued access to Paradise Hill, meets current design criteria, is less expensive, and has less impacts to Tribal land than the others. 

All the Alternatives were designed to improve the highway while taking cost, right-of-way requirements and environmental constraints into consideration.

ODOT will move forward with preliminary design and environmental studies for the portion of Alternative 2 for SH 10A, starting two miles from SH 10 junction extending east to SH 100 junction.

Total programmed estimated cost of these projects is listed at $9.6 million with right-of-way and utility relocation programmed to start in 2019, and construction in 2021.

The current annual average daily traffic in 2016 was 1,200 vehicles a day. It is estimated that by the year 2036 that 1,700 vehicles will travel the roadway daily.

Criteria provided by ODOT also states that construction along existing alignment may require a temporary construction road closure.

Highway 82

ODOT hosted an open house in November 2016 at the Blackgum Community Center to present information and allow citizens to discuss a dangerous portion of State Highway 82, between State Highway 100 and Snake Creek, north of Vian, slated for construction improvements in 2022.

According to ODOT, citizens had complained about the section of road being dangerous and the cause of numerous accidents. 

Chris Wallace, a division engineer with ODOT said 46 accidents had been reported in the past five years between the intersection, north to the Cherokee County line.

“I know a lot of people said there have been more wrecks than that but these are only the wrecks that have been reported,” Wallace said. “I'm sure there are many more that occurred but they weren't reported to authorities or one of our systems that tracks them (accidents).”

ODOT, again in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), proposed to improve the safety of SH-82 from the intersection of SH-82 and SH-100, and extending east and north about 2.5 miles to just south of the Snake Creek bridge in Sequoyah County. 

Documentation provided shows this section has two, 11-foot wide driving lanes with sharp curves, insufficient sight distances, unsafe intersections, a narrow bridge, several narrow drainage crossings, and no shoulders - factors which all contribute to high accident rates. 

ODOT representatives and those present at the meeting did see eye-to-eye on the main concern though, which is improving and making the section of highway safe that was previously constructed with poor geometry.

“The best we can tell from old documentation is this section of highway was built in the 1950s, about the same time Lake Tenkiller was constructed,” Wallace said.

Wallace said it has only been five years since a section of SH-82 south of there was reworked but such projects are on an eight-year program done in five-mile stretches.

ODOT hired a consultant to study five alternatives for improvement while taking into consideration the costs of construction, right-of-way and utility impacts, environmental constraints and the aesthetic qualities of the roadway, and chose to select Alternative 2 as the preferred route.

Alternative 2 is stated as a reconstruction of an offset alignment to the east of existing at a 55 mile per hour design speed, utilizing 1,000 feet of existing highway. It will involve a combination of widening the driving lanes to 12-feet and adding 8-foot shoulders from the intersection east towards EW-97 Road. 

Followed by full vertical and horizontal curve corrections north to the Snake Creek bridge, it would correct the vertical curve south of Snake Creek where accidents are frequent, on a slight offset east of the existing. 

It will involve potential impact to three residential properties with an estimated total cost of $20.3 million, which was also the lowest bid from all the Alternatives that were listed.

It also states it would meet current design standards and the highway would remain open during construction and to traffic at all times. 

The current annual average daily traffic for 2016 was 1,460 vehicles a day, according to ODOT. That count is estimated to be around 2,580 vehicles a day by the year 2046.

“Because we are a recipient of federal dollars, we have to follow certain guidelines,” Wallace said. “Even environmentally, there are bats and beetles that could be on an endangered list, but we will have a time frame in order to handle any restrictions.”

Overall, Wallace said he was very pleased with public response.

We really received some good response, information and comments and were glad that so many people turned out to voice their opinions during these pubic meetings,” he said. 

Currently, ODOT will move forward with preliminary design and environmental studies and has the project scheduled for right-of-way and utility relocation in 2020 with projected construction in 2022.

Sequoyah County Times

111 N. Oak
Sallisaw OK 74955