• ODOT officials hold public meeting in Norman
By Carol L. Cole
Transcript Staff Writer
Oklahoma Department of Transportation officials detailed an upcoming eight-year, $108 million widening project for Interstate 35 at a public meeting Monday night at Norman’s Holiday Inn.
The 4.2-mile first phase of construction would be to widen I-35 from US 77 to Main Street to six lanes, on the outside of existing lanes. No additional right-of-way acquisition is anticipated.
ODOT has budgeted $9.7 million for the project in fiscal year 2008, and an August letting for first phase construction.
Cobb Engineering is working on the engineering for the first phase.
Marty Hepp, president of Cobb Engineering, said they are hoping to get written comments and input from the public from Monday’s meeting.
In 1989, the Main Street to US 77 stretch of I-35 handled about 60,000 vehicles per day. It handles 99,000 vehicles per day in 2007.
“Norman has grown quite a bit,” Hepp said, noting that during that period, the Tecumseh Road interchange was added.
The Robinson Street and Tecumseh Road interchanges will allow six lanes to pass underneath and will not involve reconstruction, said David Streb, ODOT director of engineering.
Some ramps would need to be modified to make them connect properly.
And the southbound US 77 bridge would be modified to be two lanes. The US 77 bridge northbound going under I-35 would be straightened out somewhat.
“It will feel comfortable, easy to drive,” Streb said.
The second phase from Main Street to SH 9 and the Canadian River, is being studied for environmental impacts by the Benham Company. That phase will require reconstruction of the Main Street and Lindsey Street interchanges and reconstruction of the interchange at SH 9.
Streb said there is a commitment to build a bridge over the interstate at Rock Creek Road, but at this time there are no plans to make it an interchange. It would be a partnership with ODOT and the City of Norman.
“It’s strictly a bridge over the top to increase circulation,” Streb said.
ODOT also is studying one-way vs. two-way frontage roads.
“We anticipate getting a consultant on board to evaluate one-way frontage roads,” he said. “The one-way, two-way frontage road project is not part of this project. … That would be part of interchange reconstruction.”
During construction, it is mandated that two lanes of traffic would be maintained on each side of I-35, Streb said. The US 77 ramp could be closed down for a period of time.
“This is a fast track project, considering the magnitude of this highway,” he said.
Norman resident Ed Kessler asked about environmental impacts of so much more traffic going through Norman.
Streb said in the Phase 2 Fixed Guideway that alternate modes of transportation are being considered.
“Are they in the long range planning? Yes,” he said.
Normandy Creek resident Sally Wade asked what happened to the noise abatement wall that was supposed to be built along I-35 between Main Street and Lindsey Street.
“It was like a brook,” Wade said of interstate traffic noise when her family moved in eight or nine years ago. “It’s not like a brook anymore.”
“We’re required when we add additional lanes to add noise mitigation walls,” Streb said.
Craig Moody of ODOT planning and research, said ODOT would maintain entrances and exits along the corridor.
“Obviously home football games — don’t close the ramps,” Streb said.
Moody said he believed the speed along I-35 would remain the same.
The traffic increase at the SH 9 interchange since the construction of Riverwind Casino was a hot topic.
“We are focused on that with a close microscope,” Moody said.
Ward 4 councilmember Carol Price Dillingham asked about why carpool lanes were not included in the project.
“The jury is still kind of out on the (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes,” Streb said.
He said they had been tried in many markets, including Dallas, to mixed results.
Public comments may be directed to the Planning and Research Division Engineer, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, 200 N.E. 21st St., Oklahoma City, OK 73105, or at the ODOT Web site at www.okladot.state.ok.us/meetings.
Carol L. Cole366firstname.lastname@example.org
• ODOT officials hold public meeting in Norman
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