Commuters traveling to Oklahoma City from the Shawnee and Pottawatomie County area say they have an interesting daily commute because of road construction with alternating lane closures.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation reports that contractors are performing an asphalt overlay project on both the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-40 between Choctaw Road and the Pottawatomie County line.
“This is a $4.6 million pavement rehabilitation project to help extend the life of the I-40 pavement and improve driving conditions until the interstate can be widened to six lanes,” said ODOT spokesman Cody Boyd, who expects that six-lane project to go to bid in 2023.
Current work on the highway began Feb. 8, he said, and is expected to be completed sometime this summer.
Boyd said while drivers can expect alternating lane closures in different areas of the project at various times, including days, nights and weekends, crews are trying to best work around the flow of traffic.
“Lane closures are planned in order to minimize the impact during morning and evening rush hour,” he said, which means there are no westbound closures until after the morning rush hour and no eastbound closures until after the evening rush hour.
With alternating lane closures, traffic is slow at times, and in some cases, drivers report the westbound lanes can be backed up from the county line all the way east to the area of SH 102.
Local commuters are feeling the frustration.
“I drive through all that chaos five to six times a week,” said Heather Clanton Leep. “Really wish they'd add a lane, going both ways. Even without construction traffic the highway/traffic is horrible. Absolutely no reason to come to complete stops every morning. The on and off ramps are ridiculous!”
Boyd said drivers can use US-62 or SH-9 to avoid congestion during times when there are lane closures.
Driver Craig Duncan said he sat in traffic for an hour one night and took US-62 the next day.
Shane McCollum said his wife drives that roadway five days a week.
“I don't know how she stays calm, even before the construction,” he said.
ODOT issues daily traffic advisories for the Oklahoma City metro area to alert drivers about where and when the lane closures are. Anyone can subscribe to receive these by e-mail by going to www.odot.org and clicking “Sign up for News & Alerts.”