By Conrad Dudderar
Canadian County will be part of an estimated $4.2 million state highway safety project from the Texas state line extending east 135 miles.
A “wrong-way” detection system, safety devices, signage, and striping will be installed along eastbound and westbound Interstate 40 at key interchanges in Beckham, Caddo, Canadian, Custer, and Washita counties.
The proposal features 10 wrong-way warning systems, notably one in Canadian County at US-81 in El Reno.
“The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is continually looking for ways to improve highway safety,” ODOT public information manager Lisa Shearer-Salim said. “Adding wrong-way detection systems along the I-40 and I-35 corridors in Oklahoma gives an additional opportunity to stop some of these incidents before drivers ever enter the highway, which endangers themselves and other motorists.
“In many of the state’s more rural areas such as Canadian County, if a driver enters the interstate the wrong way it could be several miles before they can find an exit, thus increasing the chances of a tragic crash.”
Some 37 miles of I-40 pass through Canadian County, from mile markers 104 to 141.
In recent years, several people have been killed in wrong-way traffic collisions that occurred along state roadways in Canadian County.
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation on Oct. 20 opened bids for the I-40 safety improvements. The project was designed by Traffic Engineering Consultants.
The apparent low (and only) bidder was Action Safety Supply Co. The $4,182,837.95 bid was 93.65% of the engineer’s $4,466,476.55 cost estimate.
ODOT is expected to award the contract at the Nov. 7th Oklahoma Transportation Commission meeting. Some 180 calendar days have been allotted for the project.
“ODOT’s top priority is the safety of the traveling public and providing additional tools to help drivers avoid a possible life-threatening error is one of the best safety investments we can make,” Shearer-Salim said.
“We’re excited to bring this safety program to Western and Central Oklahoma as part of our ongoing efforts to reduce fatality crashes.”
The 10 wrong-way warning systems will be installed at mile markers 11, 50, 57, 65A, 69, 71, 82, 88, 95, and 125.
The interchange improvements include internally lit “Do Not Enter” signage that can be better seen at night as well as a thermal camera system that activates flashing lights to warn motorists that they are traveling the wrong way.
In total, 49 interchanges along I-40 will receive safety upgrades, featuring:
- New wrong-way signs
- Raised pavement markers that show red if a vehicle is traveling the wrong way
- Updated striping on ramps and maintain I-40
Work is expected to start in early 2023 and be completed by summer 2023, weather permitting. Traffic will be impacted by intermittent I-40 lane and ramp closures between Oklahoma County and the Texas state line.
This is the third wrong-way detection system project awarded in Oklahoma.
The first installation occurred in early 2022 along I-40 between Oklahoma County and the Arkansas state line.
A second project is about to begin on the northern I-35 corridor between Oklahoma County and the Kansas state line.
TRAFFIC SIGNAGE PROJECT
A second state highway improvement project also includes Canadian County.
This $3.4 million traffic signal project will start at I-40 and Morgan Road in Canadian County, extending east and along I-235 from I-40 extending north in Oklahoma County. Project length totals 10.5 miles.
ODOT’s Transportation Commission opened bids for the traffic signage at its monthly meeting Oct. 20. The project was designed by Kimley-Horn and Associates.
Apparent low bidder was Midstate Traffic Control. The $3,409,723.70 bid was 95.27% of the engineer’s estimate.
Other bidders were Action Safety Supply Co. ($3,578,945.46) and Advanced Work Zone Services ($5,293,594.50.)
The Oklahoma Transportation Commission will consider awarding the contract at its Nov. 7th meeting. Some 240 calendar days have been allotted for the project.