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Big Changes for U.S.-69/75 as Project Gets Green Light

Tue September 24, 2019 - West Edition #19

After years of planning, countless hours in the design room and input from the public, the U.S.-69/75 corridor in Bryan County is a giant step closer to a major reconstruction due to a federal FASTLANE Grant received in 2016.

The contract was awarded by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission at its August meeting to Duit Construction of Edmond at more than $150 million, with a significant $62 million coming from federal funds. This was the third largest grant awarded in the nation during the grant cycle and is one of the highest amounts of federally awarded grants in the department's history. The project has financial incentives for different milestones and early completion, made possible by the federal grant.

The estimated three-yearlong project is anticipated to start as early as fall 2019 and will improve 4 mi. of this corridor just north of the Texas state line between Chickasaw Road in Calera and U.S.-70 in Durant.

"We are seeing interstate levels of traffic in this area and the massive changes made by this project will transform it into a modern, expanded freight corridor," said Tim Gatz, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation executive director. "This is a critical step forward in Oklahoma's transportation future. This modernization of U.S.-69/75 means the highway will continue to grow as a major freight and travel corridor, especially as Texas continues its expansion south of the Red River."

This project will improve accessibility on and off the highway, protect key interchanges, create one-way frontage roads and add a much-needed rail crossing to the four lanes of traffic, all to alleviate traffic congestion and improve safety. This was a competitive grant process, these needs lead to Oklahoma's application being one of the 18 projects selected out of more than 200 submissions nationwide. The grant was a critical leg up to improving the commercial corridor.

"The current configuration simply can't keep up with today's heavy traffic demands, which is a concern not just for travelers but for the surrounding towns," said Anthony Echelle, ODOT Division Two engineer. "We have a great opportunity to create a modern corridor capable of moving freight traffic efficiently and safely through the state without bogging down local communities."

ODOT's investment in highways and bridges is a statewide effort and will continue to improve Oklahoma's transportation infrastructure from state line to state line. Before the announcement of this grant, only the right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation phases for this segment of U.S.-69/75 were scheduled for Federal Fiscal Year 2023 and construction was not even included in ODOT's Eight-year Construction Work Plan due to lack of an available funding solution. Due to the FASTLANE grant, the project was able to be advanced to this year.

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