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OKC Traffic is Going to Get Worse!

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So the holidays are over.  That should mean it’s safe to drive through intersections like Northwest Expressway and Penn, right?  These two streets cross at the corner of Penn Square Mall, and traffic in the weeks before Christmas was backed up for blocks.  It was the same up near Quail Springs Mall and on streets like north May, which is home to Target, Best Buy, and other large retail stores.  But now it’s January, and all that traffic is gone!

But wait, just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean our streets will be back to normal.  According to the Oklahoma Transportation Department, we’re in for some major construction projects…projects that are expected to last for a decade! 

The first and largest of these projects seems to be the ten-year rebuilding of the interchange of Interstate 235 and Interstate 44.  Why will this take up to ten years? Well, it’s because Oklahoma doesn’t always do things, well, intelligently.  I say that because the rebuild is going to start before it is funded, an issue that could lead to many pauses in the project.  It’s estimated to cost $150 million.  The first phase, which will begin in 2011, will cost $24.8 million.  That’s a lot of money, but the truth of the matter is that the interchange is deteriorating and needs major repairs.  While I say it’s not smart to begin the project without all the funds in hand, I also realize that the project is rapidly becoming a priority and, if repairs aren’t done, it could even start to pose a danger to drivers.  Construction is set to begin this summer.

Another construction project slated to begin in 2011 is the new interchange at Interstate 40 and Morgan Road.  This $34 million project is actually slated to begin within a few weeks, and it will cause some delays for those commuting between Oklahoma City and Yukon.  However, this isn’t a ten year project—it’s expected to be finished within a year and a half, two years at the maximum.

Other construction projects are continuing in Oklahoma City, including the major repair and renovation project of Interstate 44.  While much of the construction has been finished, there’s still a good amount of work to be done.  The same is true of the construction in Bricktown.  There are a number of streets currently closed due to the construction of the new Devon Tower.  If you’re driving in Bricktown (especially if you’re trying to make a movie time at Harkins Theater like I was!), be sure to factor in these delays. 

In the long run, these road construction projects will make Oklahoma City a better and safer place to drive.  However, I know how difficult it can be to see the long term picture when you’re sitting in traffic. 

Other blogs about OKC traffic:

The Oklahoma Trucking Association has a list of some construction projects.

Adam’s Oklahoma City Blog has information on the OK Department of Transportation’s eight year plan.

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