Sallisaw in line for three highway projects

Sallisaw is in line for at least three big highway projects in the coming months and next few years, according to Chris Wallace, division engineer for Division 1 of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Wallace outlined the projects during a presentation to the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce Wednesday at the chamber's monthly membership luncheon at Carl Albert State College.

Work could start as soon as January 2019 on a $40 million project that will see the ODOT replace nine bridges and on ramps on Interstate 40 where it intersects with U.S. Highway 64 at the east end of Sallisaw, Wallace said.

“It's a big project and will take 700 days to complete,” Wallace said. “Four of those nine bridges are structurally deficient. That doesn't mean they aren't safe, it just means they have seen their day.”

Utility work is ongoing on the widening project for U.S. 59 north from U.S. 64. The way it looks now, Wallace said the project could be let for bid in 2020, adding there is some possibility it could start sometime next year.

The work is being done there to help eliminate some congestion at the intersection of U.S. 59 and U.S. 64.

A third project in the works involves replacing the bridge, or overpass, at U.S. Highway 59 south and Interstate 40, along with making intersection improvements. That project is scheduled for 2025, Wallace said.

Wallace said the ODOT is open to suggestions on how to alleviate some of the congestion at the traffic light at Ruth Street and also provide better access to Houser Street that runs adjacent to the cemetery to the industrial park.

One unusual proposal, Wallace said, is to construct a roundabout just south of the interstate overpass that would allow traffic coming off the interstate from the west to circle around and head into town or access Houser. The roundabout would also be used to access the eastbound on-ramp to interstate 40.

Wallace said the roundabout is unusual and there aren't many around anymore.

One audience member also suggested correcting a problem that exists on Lennington Drive where a number of vehicles have overturned or gone into the ditch as they attempted to turn onto Lennington from U.S. Highway 59.

Wallace said the projects are all part of ODOT's eight-year plan, which is continually updated to keep projects within that eight year cycle.

Sequoyah County Times

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