Final phase of Highway 69 project starts Monday

ADRIAN O'HANLON III | Staff photo 

A contractor is expected to begin mobilizing around 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 11, for the final phase of the U.S. Highway 69 project in McAlester — with construction of an "underpass" beneath the highway included in the plans.

A couple of initial impacts are expected, according to Oklahoma Department of Transportation Information Officer Lisa Shearer-Salim, including:

• Northbound and southbound traffic on Highway 69 will be narrowed to one lane in each direction from Fourteenth Street to Village Boulevard.

• The west frontage, or service road, from Fourteenth Street to Village Boulevard will be closed to open up room for drainage work and a temporary median crossover will be constructed near Fourteenth Street.

Motorists can expect construction to continue for more than 1.5 years until the completion of the project's final phase. Construction is expected to be complete by fall of 2022 on the project's $32 million second phase.

"The department encourages motorists to slow down and pay close attention to signage and changes in the work zone as several lane shifts and closures will occur throughout the more than 1.5 year-long project," Shearer-Salin said in a response to an inquiry from the News-Capital.

"Additionally, the contractor and ODOT will work to maintain access to businesses along the corridor," she continued. "However, access may change temporarily in some instances as work progresses."

Other changes are planned for the coming months.

Beginning in late spring or early summer, depending on the weather, motorists can expect traffic changes to the west frontage road median opening at Village Boulevard to Peaceable Road.

Plans call for it to be converted to a one-way configuration so those on the west frontage road wishing to travel northbound on U.S. Highway 69 will first enter southbound U.S. 69 at the Village Boulevard median opening and travel south to the temporary median opening just north of Fourteenth Street.

"This will allow them to access northbound U.S. 69," Shearer-Salim said of plans for the project.

"Additionally, later in the project, the east frontage road will be closed from just north of the Lakewood Church Driveway to Village Boulevard, for frontage road construction. Once this closure is in place, access to Car Mart and Jimmy's Egg will be via Village Boulevard to Peaceable Road," Shearer-Salim said of additional plans.

It's part of the overall project to reconstruct U.S. Highway 69 from U.S. Highway 270 to South Fourteenth Street in McAlester.

ODOT awarded the $32 million contract for second and final phase of U.S. Highway 69 reconstruction in McAlester to Allen Contracting.

Phase 2 includes:

• Reconstruction of U.S Highway 69 and South Peaceable Road south to near S. Fourteenth Street.

• Reconstruction of the frontage roads from just south of Wade Watts Boulevard to near S. Fourteenth Street.

• Removal of two temporary on-ramps, with one on northbound U.S. Highway 69 at S. Peaceable Road and other on southbound U.S. Highway 69 west of Comanche Avenue.

• Elimination of the temporary J-turn north of Village Boulevard.

• Construction of an underpass south of Village Boulevard, stretching under U.S. Highway 69 and connecting residents to Peaceable Road.

Meanwhile, plans by the developer of the Shops at McAlester Retail Center to install a new traffic light at S. Fourteenth Street has been under review by ODOT.

"Although the start date is unknown, the developer is expecting to build the light concurrently with the recently-awarded," according to ODOT.

Cost of installing a traffic signal at Fourteenth Street is not part of the state's project cost.

ODOT previously awarded a $13 million contract first phase to Koss Construction in February 2017, which brings the combined cost of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the U.S. Highway 69 project in McAlester to $45 million. Koss Construction completed the Phase 1 of the project in the summer of 2018.

U.S. Highway 69 has plenty of traffic. The Annual Average Daily Traffic count for the highway in the McAlester area, is 23,200, with 25% of that number freight traffic, according to ODOT.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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