By Conrad Dudderar
Three primary options are being studied for a permanent safety upgrade of the State Highway 66/Banner Road intersection.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) plans to install either a single-lane roundabout, all-way stop control or signalized intersection at SH-66 and Banner Road just west of Yukon.
This intersection has been the site of dozens of serious traffic collisions – including several deadly crashes – since the mid-1990s.
State funds will pay for whichever proposed alternative is selected.
“The citizens are not wanting the roundabout over there,” Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart said at the Feb. 22nd commissioners’ meeting. “As far as public comments are concerned, it’s all been ‘no roundabout.’
“I don’t know where it’s going to fall.”
Citizen input was solicited during a virtual open house to help ODOT officials determine how to proceed with the SH-66/Banner Road project.
Canadian County Commissioners in August 2020 approved an engineering services contract with Freese & Nichols, Inc. to design the intersection upgrade.
Freese & Nichols, Inc.’s design will help determine what type of permanent improvement is done.
Canadian County is paying $25,000 toward a maximum $94,045 design cost, with ODOT covering the rest.
“They’re close to 90% plan completion for three variations of solutions to make it safer there,” District 1 County Commissioner Marc Hader said. “We’ve done our part to get the ball rolling.”
The intersection is in ODOT’s right-of-way within an unincorporated area of Commissioner Hader’s district.
Canadian County Commissioners in June 2020 approved an agreement with ODOT for an “intersection modification” project.
Under this agreement, ODOT will cover the construction cost “of up to $450,000” from the state’s traffic safety fund.
ODOT will solicit construction bids from contractors for the SH-66/Banner Road project after the design is finalized.
While the new design for the SH-66/Banner Road intersection hasn’t been decided, an upcoming ODOT project at US-81/SH-66 in El Reno will have a new roundabout.
Proponents say a roundabout reduces speeds through the intersection and reduces severity of crashes, while requiring no traffic signal maintenance.
However, many drivers are unfamiliar with roundabouts.
THE THREE ALTERNATIVES
During the open house, Brandon Huxford with the Freese & Nichols engineering firm described the purpose of making permanent improvements at SH-66 and Banner Road.
“Items being addressed with the proposed alternative intersection configurations are: Improved intersection safety by managing speeds through the intersection and promoting traffic calming,” Huxford said, “improved intersection operation to account for increasing traffic volumes and improve vehicular movements through the intersection.
“Banner Road approaches State Highway 66 on a skew and is constrained by the bridge to the east and a large culvert to the west. The intersection is also on a hill, which can cause sight distance issues for drivers.”
Huxford presented three proposed project alternatives for public feedback:
SINGLE-LANE ROUNDABOUT: This alternative utilizes the existing pavement footprint and would be milled and overlayed with asphalt within the project extents.
In advance of the intersection, SH-66 would be reduced from four travel lanes down to two travel lanes.
To provide for traffic calming, the approaches on SH-66 would be curved; this design slows traffic down before entering the intersection.
A truck apron would surround the center island of the roundabout to allow for large vehicles like trucks, school buses, and emergency vehicles to navigate the intersection without hitting fixed objects while remaining in their lane.
The truck apron would be slightly raised when compared to the adjacent pavement to discourage passenger vehicles from driving on it.
Curb would be placed on the edge of the travel lanes to channelize and direct traffic where they need to go, and the center island would be mounded to prevent vehicles from driving straight through the intersection.
Roundabouts are excellent at reducing the number and severity of crashes at intersections while also safely facilitating truck movements.
Roundabouts also do not require traffic signals and associated signal maintenance costs.
Estimated cost: $771,000.
ALL-WAY STOP CONTROL: This alternative also utilizes the existing pavement footprint. In advance of the intersection, the outside lanes on SH-66 would be reduced from four travel lanes to two travel lanes to provide for traffic calming.
New pavement markings and advanced signage would be placed. Stop signs and red flashing beacons would be face each approach, indicating a stop for each movement at the intersection.
This all-way stop control alternative is intended to stop all traffic at the intersection such that traffic can move through the intersection without conflicting with high-speed traffic traveling eastbound and westbound along SH-66.
Estimated cost: $50,000.
SIGNALIZED INTERSECTION: This alternative also utilizes the existing pavement footprint and pavement markings.
New signal equipment would be installed with advanced signage of a signal ahead.
The existing poles and mast arms could not be reused on this project because they do not meet the current design requirements for installation of traffic signals.
The signalized intersection alternative is intended to regulate all traffic at the intersection such that traffic can move through the intersection under predetermined phasing with separated movements.
This alternative would require a maintenance agreement with Canadian County for maintenance of the traffic signals.
Estimated cost: $350,000.
NOW A FOUR-WAY STOP
ODOT made interim safety improvements at the SH-66/Banner Road intersection after a fatal collision in November 2019 (see related story).
At that time, only traffic on Banner Road was required to stop at the intersection and there was no control for eastbound and westbound traffic on SH-66.
Flashing beacons faced each approach, flashing red toward Banner Road and yellow toward SH-66.
In February 2020, the intersection was reconfigured to an all-way stop with flashing red beacons in all directions. To further slow traffic down on SH-66, one approach lane was closed.
The east and west approaches on SH-66 have one thru lane and left- and right-turn bays. The north and south approaches on Banner road have one shared right, thru and left lane.
Rumble strips and large advance warning signs also were installed as part of the temporary upgrade.
Final design for the permanent upgrade at SH-66/Banner Road is due this spring with construction starting this summer and ending in late 2021 or early 2022, according to the proposed project timeline.