By Robert Medley
Going over the floodplain of the North Canadian River, two massive, new bridges on the John Kilpatrick Turnpike have been completed ahead of schedule in fast-growing eastern Canadian County.
The bridges on the turnpike are south of Wilshire Boulevard and north of State Highway 66. Cost of the project was $55 million. The turnpike was widened between the bridges across a 2-mile portion of the roadway that now connects I-35 in a loop that ends near Will Rogers World Airport.
Turnpike spokesman Jack Damrill said the bridges took 16 months to complete, and the bridges have improved safety. There is room to expand the turnpike to six lanes to three lanes in each direction.
“We had to redo these bridges. We believe with the completion of the southwest extension that now the west side of the Kilpatrick is growing at an unbelievable rate,” Damrill said.
The bridges cross a floodplain with agricultural land and wetlands with populations of native birds and undeveloped areas along the river with wildlife.
As population and development continues to increase in far western parts of Oklahoma City and eastern Canadian County and Yukon, traffic in the area has increased more than 12% a year, Oklahoma Turnpike Authority officials reported.
The traffic flow into Yukon has improved and more growth is anticipated by city officials, said Pam Shelton, Yukon Chamber of Commerce director.
“I really believe this will help us. I’ve heard people say before that it is so far to go out to Yukon but now you can say you can get any where now going north and south. It is so easy to get to the airport,” Shelton said.
The bridge project was not expected to be completed until July, but work went ahead of the schedule, Damrill said.
From the SH 66 exit just east of Sara Road, and to the south, the turnpike connects with Interstate 40 where recent work for the expansion has been completed. The Mustang portion, or southwest extension of the turnpike goes to S. Council Road near Will Rogers World Airport in southwest Oklahoma City.