By Conrad Dudderar
State transportation officials say they “remain committed” to making a permanent safety upgrade at the State Highway 66/Banner Road intersection.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation continues to work through the engineering design of several alternatives discussed with the public.
Three primary options have been proposed for permanent improvements at this intersection just west of Yukon: A single-lane roundabout, all-way stop control or signalized intersection.
“A final decision will be made after further consultation with the Canadian County Commissioners with the goal of placing a project on an upcoming bid letting by the end of this year,” ODOT spokeswoman Lisa Shearer-Salim said.
“We want to remind motorists to remain vigilant and alert to oncoming traffic at any state highway and county road intersection such as SH-66 and Banner Road.”
Canadian County Commissioners in June 2020 approved an agreement with ODOT for an “intersection modification” project at SH-66 and Banner Road.
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 after the design is finalized.
The SH-66/Banner Road intersection is on a state roadway in Canadian County District 1.
“I’m glad to hear we’re getting to a point to finalize decisions and get something out to bid for the safety of the public as timely as possible,” District 1 County Commissioner Marc Hader said. “It’s always been ODOT’s jurisdiction and, ultimately, their call about what they want to do with their highway.
“We’ve been glad to be a part of bringing it to fruition. Like a lot of the public, we’d rather have it sooner than later. But we want to make sure we make the best decision and have a positive outcome.”
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 Commission Chairman Jack Stewart noted a strong majority of citizens are opposed to a roundabout, an unfamiliar design to many Oklahoma motorists.
Commissioner Hader believes a roundabout could be a viable option at that intersection.
“If that’s what they decide to go with, I think there’ll be some angst by a handful of people off the bat,” the District 1 commissioner said. “After two to three months, people will see it’s really nice and not as bad as they thought.”
The engineering firm Freese & Nichols, Inc. was hired to design possible intersection upgrades. Canadian County is paying $25,000 toward a maximum $94,045 design cost, with ODOT covering the rest.
“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,” transportation project manager Brandon Huxford of Freese & Nichols said during the open house.
“The intersection is also on a hill, which can cause sight distance issues for drivers.”
MAKING IT SAFER
No matter which option is selected, ODOT officials are determined to make the SH-66/Banner Road intersection safer for motorists.
The intersection has been the site of dozens of serious traffic collisions – including several deadly crashes – since the mid-1990s.
ODOT made “interim” safety improvements at the SH-66/Banner Road intersection after a collision in November 2019 that killed Yukon businessman Ray Davis.
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 this temporary upgrade.
Previously, 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 had faced each approach, flashing red toward Banner Road and yellow toward SH-66.
THE THREE ALTERNATIVES
These are the three alternative designs proposed as permanent improvements to the State Highway 66/Banner Road intersection.
Engineer Huxford of Freese & Nichols presented the options during the virtual open house.
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.