Updated highway project plans for Calera exits

Published: Apr. 19, 2019 at 11:07 AM CDT
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The Oklahoma Department of transportation presented new plans for the highway construction project in Calera.

After dozens of accidents on U.S. Highway 69/75 in Calera, ODOT says this highway project is meant to cut back on accidents and fatalities, but Calera businesses and residents were worried the new highway would bypass their businesses and lose revenue.

ODOT announced Thursday there would be two exits for the town, and construction could begin by the summer.

"We've made a difference, we've got a great project that's going to transform the area," said ODOT Chief Engineer Brian Taylor.

On Thursday ODOT presented their plans for the U.S. 69/75 project in Calera, which will elevate the road over Main Street.

The project is expected to extend from Chickasaw Road in Calera all the way to Choctaw Road in Durant.

"For our highway project it's something we've been asking for for about a year and a half, something we've been working with ODOT," said Calera Mayor Brenton Rucker.

Over the past few years dozens of major accidents and several fatalities have happened on this stretch of highway.

In October a mother was killed and her two kids critically injured after their car collided with a semi. In August 2013 a 13-year-old Arlington girl was killed and her mother and 6-year-old brother were injured when a pickup slammed into their car, wrapping it around a pole.

"It's gonna really help the operation and safety of our entire system, and it's something that we're really proud of," said Taylor.

Taylor says the original project had no exists within a mile of Calera's Main Street, something that residents say would affect local businesses who depend on drivers exiting as they pass by.

Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin was at Thursday's meeting to support residents who wanted the change.

"When we first presented the issue to him he knew that having no exists further than a mile from Main Street would really kill the town," said Rucker.

The updated project plans for exits northbound near McKennon Road and southbound near Haynie Avenue.

The total cost is expected to be $142 million, being paid for by grants like the Fast Lane project.

Once a contractor is chosen, construction could begin as soon as Summer 2019. The project is estimated to be completed in three years.