Highway 69/75 reconstruction expected to begin late 2019

By  | 

CALERA, Okla. (KXII) The recent-traffic related deaths in Calera have some drivers asking what will be done to make the area safer.

Calera resident Mike Nail says he hears about wrecks happening near Main Street in Calera all the time.

“I’m up here two or three times a day. And I see some of them,” Nail said. “I see some of them at the end of town where I'm at."

While the community is reeling from the deaths of Calera residents Randy Jeffries and his 9-year-old daughter Jocelyn, others are talking about what is being done to prevent further tragedy.

News12 told you about the announcement of a $120 million construction project back in July 2016 to cut back on the fatalities, and accidents in general between Chickasaw Road in Calera and Choctaw Road in Durant.

"Anywhere that you drive can be dangerous if 100 percent of your attention is not given to the roadway and the vehicle you're driving,” Calera Police Chief Don Hyde said.

We spoke with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on Tuesday. They told us they're still on track to start reconstructing the four mile of stretch of road in late 2019.

"I think it's going to be good,” Nail said. “It's just going to be a lot of mess while they're trying to build it but it's probably going to keep the wrecks is the main thing. The police around here they got their hands full with that."

The project will upgrade Highway 69/75 to a controlled-access highway with new on and off-ramps, frontage roads and rail crossing improvements.

Two of the major improvements include lifting the highway to go over Choctaw Road and Main Street in Calera.

But not everyone is sold on the idea.

Some residents and business owners we talked to off camera said the changes will hurt Calera businesses too much with drivers not having as many options to turn into town.

The overhaul will be mainly paid for with a $62 million federal grant the state received in 2016. ODOT expects another $24 million in federal funding.

The state will pick up the remaining $34 million.