By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – Canadian County Commissioners are recommending to state transportation officials that the State Highway 66/Banner Road intersection become a “permanent” four-way stop.
Commissioners, at their weekly meeting Sept. 7, took no action on a proposed maintenance agreement for a federal-aid project between Canadian County and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) to install traffic signals at the intersection, site of many serious traffic collisions over the past three decades.
The intersection, just west of Yukon, is part of the state highway system in Canadian County District 1.
District 1 Commissioner Marc Hader made the motion to recommend to ODOT the permanent four-way stop instead of traffic signals. That motion was approved 3-0.
Hader cited the high cost of installing traffic signals and the on-going maintenance they would require.
Because of a previous agreement between ODOT and Canadian County, the county must maintain that intersection although it’s in the state right-of-way.
With ODOT officials seeking Canadian County Commissioners’ input, the commissioners agreed to make their recommendation for a “permanent” SH-66/Banner Road safety upgrade. A formal resolution will be prepared.
“This is lawfully ODOT’s property and jurisdiction, and their decision to make,” Hader noted. “They don’t have to have our permission to move forward with the project – whatever they would choose.”
The District 1 county commissioner referred to input he’s received from motorists who frequently travel through SH-66/Banner Road, saying they have been pleased with the current four-way stop and flashing lights.
“The three main employers in that area that have a lot of traffic – the Banner Co-op, Canadian Valley Technology Center and OKC West Livestock Market – are very content,” Hader said.
District 3 County Commissioner Jack Stewart agreed, saying he’s received the “same feedback” from citizens.
“Most of the people who actually drive it are very, very content with what’s out there now,” Stewart said. “They think the four-way stop is working well.
“It’s considered temporary for now but could be slightly upgraded and made into a permanent improvement.”
Meanwhile, District 2 Commissioner Dave Anderson said county commissioners “owe it to our constituents” to expedite this process.
FATAL 2019 CRASH PROMPTED STUDY
After a semi-truck/motorcycle crash in November 2019 that killed Yukon businessman Ray Davis, ODOT placed a temporary four-way stop with LED flashing lights, advance warning signs and rumble strips at SH-66 and Banner Road.
No crashes have been reported since February 2020 when these interim improvements were made.
The private engineering firm Freese & Nichols, Inc. was hired in August 2020 to make recommendations on a permanent upgrade. Canadian County paid $25,000 toward an estimated $94,045 design cost, with ODOT covering the rest.
Three design alternatives were presented to the public – a roundabout, permanent four-way stop and traffic signals.
Making the SH-66/Banner Road intersection a permanent four-way stop would cost about $50,000 and require better advance-warning signage and “step-down” speed limits, Hader explained.
These improvements could be done “at a fraction of the cost” and “almost immediately” without a long construction bidding process, he noted.
Hader shared cost estimates for the other two options – roundabout ($800,000) and traffic signals ($400,000). Federal funds through ODOT would cover 80% of those costs.
Commissioners pointed to the public’s opposition to a roundabout, which is unfamiliar to many Canadian County motorists.
“They’ve proven to work in other places and are fairly common in the rest of the country and the world,” Commissioner Stewart noted. “Roundabouts take maybe a month to get used to. They’re a little different animal, but they’re plenty safe.
“Any accident that happens is usually a ‘side swipe’, which usually doesn’t cause injuries.”
And traffic signals are “very costly” to install, Stewart explained.
“The feds would probably pick up 80% of the cost, but we’d be on the hook for the other 20%,” he added. “And the forever, ever, and ever maintenance.”